Can you think of the people from your own original community that were part of that task of raising, influencing you? As we grew, that network possibly expanded to include teachers, youth leaders, or some kind of mentor. Someone who captured something special within you that you deemed valuable. They epitomised traits of character that were important to you.
Jesus say the importance of having such influences in our life, a teacher, a master etc. Someone that you learnt from and in many ways became like. Not better than, but grew to be like them. In his words, ‘It is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher.’ Of course, he proved to be the great teacher and he shared great insights into the way of life. His profound insights have remained the source of leaning on how to be a person down through history. As our master he teachers the way of becoming like him.
Our reading from Genesis 21:8-21, Romans 6:1-11 and Matthew 10:24-39, have a variety of insights that at first seem fragmented but really trace out the great path of life.
Following his comments about the place of teachers he continues with some special concerns about the quality of the person who we choose to be our teacher. He highlights this with a negative example. Beelzebul is a devilish character. If such a character is the head of a household then the ways of that leader infiltrates the whole community under him. So our first point is the importance of choosing our teacher, our mentors thoughtfully and with care etc.
A caution - All is revealed
Jesus proceeds by putting this example in the broad context of all life. In the course of all life, all experience, all that we are, will become visible. Throughout Jesus teaching we see many references to the importance of the interior domain of our experience being that which shapes our character.
Try , as we might to conceal that which we don’t like about our interior, it will become highly visible in the fullness of time. This is the ultimate vision, but how true it is in our daily experience. The bad guys only seem to win some of the time. “You can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time”.
Jesus proceeds to show us how dealing with the interior side of our life is the pathway to the full glorious life that is its purpose. He says, ‘What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops’
Here is his ancient way of saying that God speaks in the quietness of the human interior, it seems dark, but it is what we call now, the unconscious realm of the mind. It is not booming voice, but a subtle whispering in the realms beyond the common daily chatter of voice.
Wholistic living calls us to learn the way of interior silence, where the deeper energies of our being are seeking opportunity to come to the fore. Jesus says welcomes this life, ‘tell it in the light and shout it from the rooftops’, or what we might say, let it express itself in the conscious realm of our daily living.
This is the way of discipleship, spirituality, christianness.
Warning interior death
He has a sober warning, point out that to lose touch with this interior life is worse than actually losing your physical life. OUR SPIRITUAL CORE IS LIFE.
Encouragement: All is important
A further point of encouragement is in pointing out how precious to God is the smallest things of life. The sparrow is precious to God so just how much more are we? It’s in the living this genuine interior life that embraces and liberates all that we are. It is the means we bear witness to Jesus. That is the way that Jesus figuratively presents us to God.
It means we are living in harmony with the spirit of God.
Perhaps the biggest challenge is then presented to us. The natural process of life is built around the family. He puts his teaching in the family context. He captures his listeners attention in his not uncommon way by trying to surprise them. ‘I haven’t come to bring peace’.
He proceeds to elaborate on family relationships and having noted several, such as mother father, in laws, etc he suggests he has come to split one from the other. What we need to note is that such families of these times were uniformly bonded.
In the context of his teaching we must listen to our interior life. Of course then this means we are going to find our differences, our individuality, but especially our uniquenesses. He develops his argument further by contrasting two types of love. The love of God and the love of parents. As precious as parental love is, it is quite secondary to the ultimate love of God. The former flows from the latter.
The interior awakening takes us way past the natural love of parents and into the fullness of the love of God. Ironically, our love for family is then refined and far greater than if we had never discovered the genuineness of God’s love.
Jesus sums up this entire process as one of losing one’s simple self so that we may find ones ultimate self. That is the life that Jesus calls us to.
In his day, it was revolutionary for they did not live with such knowledge.
In our own day, I wonder just how many capture his vision. Its ever so hard in our secular, materialistic world.