Learning to water ski requires counterintuitive behavior. Once you get the gear on and you are waiting in the water, some well-meaning “expert skier” will share the following secret, “Let the boat pull you up.” This sounds great until you feel the pull of the rope as it begins to tighten between you and the boat. Your first reaction is to begin to pull yourself up. Soon you have face-planted in the lake. The boat now circles back, and the words echo, “Let the boat pull you up.” Even though you hear the words, your mind cannot perceive what is being said. Ten or twenty attempts later, as the boat begins to move, you feel the rope tighten and, before you know it, the boat pulls you up.
The author of Hebrews speaks a counterintuitive word to those of us who grew up looking for a messiah but have not yet found one in Jesus. The writer tells us that Jesus not only fulfills the prophetic expectations of messiah but also reflects all that is God. Wow! Our first reaction is a face-plant—so unexpected!
God has used many approaches while reaching out to us. God spoke to Jacob, Isaiah, and Joseph in dreams and visions. God spoke through the actions of leaders like Esther, Ruth, and Daniel. God spoke through words of the prophets like Ezekiel, Amos, and Micah—all were normal, acceptable, familiar ways that God spoke. Now we learn that God is speaking through Jesus, “the exact imprint of God’s very being.” God speaks “to us” in a counterintuitive way!
Learning new skills and gaining new information takes time and effort. The writer of Hebrews extends an invitation to those who have not fully embraced Jesus to see with new eyes the blessings of God before them in the Son.
Lord, guide my feet as I learn the counterintuitive walk of Christ. Amen.
This month we read about Job, an upright man who faces severe trials but never loses his faith. Job’s story brings us face-to-face with the fact that living a godly life does not make us immune to suffering. Like Job, the psalmist wonders why he suffers, even though he lives according to God’s standards. Hebrews presents Jesus as the ultimate example of unwarranted suffering, yet because of his perseverance he is ultimately glorified. In Mark, some Pharisees test Jesus on the interpretation of the law concerning divorce. Jesus makes strong statements about marriage, but his larger concern is that their hearts have become hard. He contrasts them with little children, who model faith by receiving God with an open heart.
• Read Job 1:1; 2:1-10. How do you live with integrity?
• Read Psalm 26. When have you turned to God, fully expecting divine intervention in a tough situation? What happened?
• Read Hebrews 1:1-4; 2:5-12. When has your reaction to God’s showing up in unexpected ways resulted in a face-plant?
• Read Mark 10:2-16. How questioning a person are you? When have your questions helped you move below the surface of an issue to see the supporting understanding?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
View a growing list of resources for the spiritual work of overcoming racism.