Waiting to be Discovered…

I have a real fondness for television shows that focus on discovering the diamond in the rough. Whether this is an item in your grandparents’ attic or an unassuming bloke with a voice of gold. These shows stir something in me in regards to redemption and restoration. Obviously it is not just me because these shows are packing our stations and our binging sessions.

  • Why are we so drawn to this?
  • What makes these shows compelling?

I think a major part of it is that each of us imagines that all that needs to happen for happiness, success, and ‘life to the fullest’ is to be discovered. If only we hit the reality show lottery, then we’d be an overnight sensation; a diamond in the rough! Is this truly reality? Will we ever be discovered?

  • What if we were to recognize that we were ‘discovered’ long ago?!?
  • How would our lives look if we lived as though the ‘discovery’ has already happened?

I’m convinced that each of us has, indeed, been discovered. Faith is built upon this assumption. Abraham Heschel wrote a wonderful book (one of many) titled: “G_d in Search of Man” — this book helps illuminate the idea of G_d’s pursuit and ultimately G_d’s ‘discovering’ us! Now what?

  • Once discovered…then what?
    • What’s our next step?
    • Where do we go now?
  • What’s the role of the one that discovered us?

I’d imagine if I were ‘discovered’ by a talent scout…I’d probably become their disciple and shape my decisions, actions, and words upon their recommendations and guidance. This would be obvious…a ‘no-brainer.’ Yet this is so far from where most of us go when it comes to our obedience and movements in G_d and faith.

  • Why?

Does it effect anything when we believe we ‘deserve’ to not just be ‘discovered’ but also that we are entitled to happiness, success, and life to the fullest. I also believe these things to be true but I believe they require our work & dedication and then we sit back and wait to reap the rewards of our pricelessness.

  • How have we gotten here?

In many ways the church has become the friend or family member that tells you you’re an amazing singer while closing the bathroom door to avoid hearing you perform. It’s not that the talent isn’t there but rather it needs to be honed, refined, disciplined. But we shy away from these hard truths in order not to hurt feelings and to maintain power.

  • Sometimes I wonder if we are holding out for a better scout!

The current ‘scout’ will require too much change, too much work, too much improvement. An internal, eternal, moral rollercoaster that shaping us into our ‘sensation’!

Sometimes it’s easier to just watch vicariously through the TV in comfort of our pajamas and ice-cream bowls.

We’ve been discovered – Now what are we going to do?

Discipleship — Dedication — Devotion

Whose Inscription?

There is a great moment in the gospel narrative when Jesus is asked a question that many of his fellow Jews wrestled with. Israel was in a strange situation, being in Jerusalem yet in many ways still feeling the pains of exile because of Rome’s oppressive rule. Israel enjoyed few freedoms beyond their Temple practices, often being forced to contribute to a system that revered other gods, goddesses, and idols belonging to Rome and their fellow conquered nations. Though Rome relented and allowed Israel to abstain from offering a “pinch of incense” as they entered each city gate (a way to honor the gods of that city), they were still expected to pay a tribute tax to Caesar. This tax was complicated for Israel; Rome—and Caesar himself—proclaimed Caesar’s role as a deity.

The religious leaders of Jesus’s day debated the virtues or evils that were inherent in the very giving of the tribute tax. On one hand it kept things peaceful (Jeremiah 29:4-7), but on the other, it was counter to their sensibilities of the shema (Deuteronomy 6:4) and the Ten Commands (especially Exodus 20:3). These new exiles were left to debate, wrestle with, and find a way forward in paying a tribute to Caesar.

This is the setting for the scene in Mark 12:13-16. It is interesting to note that the two groups sent to trap Jesus were Herodians (who had every reason to keep Rome happy) and the Pharisees (who were most likely against paying a pagan leader tribute). They assumed their trap to be foolproof because Jesus would ultimately have to choose a side.

Enter, stage right, the brilliance of Jesus. He responds to their question by employing the cleverness of a truly great rabbi—a better set of questions! This is where things get interesting and take an unexpected twist for the original questioners, because they responded to Jesus’s two questions, “Whose image?” and “Whose inscription?” with one answer, “Caesar’s.” Jesus corrects their answer by saying, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and give to God what is God’s.”

The passage ends with everyone being “utterly amazed,” yet we typically aren’t that impressed with this story. Why should we be? When we look at a denarius we find that throughout the time of Jesus there were several different versions struck for each Caesar. Each of these contained the image of the current Caesar and then a title that made the declaration of divinity of said Caesar. Jesus counters the trap by saying that theimage is indeed of Caesar but the inscription belongs only to God.

This is the picture drawn for us, one that still comes with great difficulty as we wrestle with the theology of our bank accounts. What things, people, and places do we elevate above God? It is not a problem to spend money, to enjoy money, to save money—but we must always know whose inscription is on our finances.

First Published here.