If the story of the running father in Luke gives us a picture of who God is, we have a complimentary story about Jesus and a woman scorned. But before we get to the juicy details about HER, let’s take a moment to see what happened first.
Jesus realized that the Pharisees were keeping count of the baptisms that he and John performed (although his disciples, not Jesus, did the actual baptizing). They had posted the score that Jesus was ahead, turning him and John into rivals in the eyes of the people. So Jesus left the Judean countryside and went back to Galilee. John 4:1-3 MSG
Jesus does not compete. It is no secret that I love to win. I love to win at board games; I love to win at tennis. If I were being questioned by the Senate Judiciary Committee, one of the things I could repeat ad infinitum that would be true about me would be, “I love to win.”
Jesus does not care about winning.
Implications? When I come across a characteristic of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit that does not align with what I love, I need to check myself before I wreck myself. I practice losing A LOT. It really is not hard to do, life presents me with many opportunities.
I do not get to play the competition game. I have to set my competitive edge aside and step away from the steep slope of competition that threatens to endanger my capacity to bear the image of God.
Because I both love and hate this truth so very much, I continue to be confounded when I continue to find examples in my own life where my sincere desire to bear the image of God in my own life conflicts with my personality, preferences, and cultural mores that conflict with who God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit consistently teach us about their identity.
Do I do this well? Not particularly. But that is not the point. And if we make THAT the point, are we not just entering into another competition with self? Eugene Peterson calls that “mask polishing.” So what is the point?
To be continued...