Tag Archives: Trinity 5b

Fireworks

We like to do well, and to encourage others – celebrating family and friends’ achievements. But we can overdo it! A proper ambition can become stressful competition of the most unhelpful sort. What to one person is friendly rivalry and motivation is to another a load of expectation and the fear of failure.

Paul had a problem with the church in Corinth (2 Corinthians 12:2-10). He found that they were preferring to listen to other teachers, whose example was harmfully competitive, perhaps with a financial motive. His reaction is not to enter the competition, but to “boast”. There seems no doubt that “the man” who had the revelations he talks about is himself, but he prefers to boast about his weakness, so that he can focus on the strength God supplies.

This may seem remote from our experience, yet it has importance. On the one hand, we are warned against being competitive in telling stories of our religious experience. There is no merit in “experiences” unless they lead on to a changed character, and a life of faithful and effective service – and that can be seen without publicity. At the same time, we are reminded of God’s help, to provide what is needed (yes, not always what we want, or even think we need!). The focus should be on God, not on self-dramatisation.

On the other hand, those who choose Christian leaders, whether deciding which group to join, or which person gets a job, need to beware. The qualities that matter do not include an inflated sense of self-importance, nor stories of dramatic spiritual experience. If there is faith, the experience will show in gifts and character. If there is only a desire for excitement or the unusual, there is danger.

Problems getting there?

It must have been hard for Jairus to make that approach to Jesus! (Mark 5:21-43).  Jairus had a position, in the synagogue, in the community.  He knew Jesus was not popular with some people – important people.  There would be comments and criticism!  And – what if Jesus said no, and wouldn’t come, or couldn’t heal his daughter?  We don’t know how much of a struggle it was, but we can begin to guess.

It must have been hard for that woman to touch Jesus in the crowd!  He might have been so angry!  But she had to try.  She felt she had nothing to lose (though it could have turned out badly).  It looks as if Jesus is being cruel in making her come forward – but I think it is more about making her sure about her healing and his acceptance, so that she can resume a life, with faith.

It looks as if Jesus is being cruel making Jairus wait while he stops to talk to the woman.  That’s when the messengers come to say that his daughter has now died.  But again, it works for the best.  Jairus has even more reason to trust and be thankful to Jesus, and to face down any criticism or hostility.

Of course, Mark is pointing out that, while we have different difficulties asking Jesus for help, and trusting him, we all find it hard.  But we all need to take the risk, – and despite our fears, we will be welcome, and find the best way.  We don’t know how these two people went on, just as I will have no idea what effect reading this will have on you.  It’s more important that God knows, and that your trust in him grows.