TMOC 11. Give Them Room
Efficiency and achievement are human values, not spiritual values.
How would our children learn if we didn’t let them fail? How would they gain skills and confidence if don’t let them practice, taking much longer than we would on the same task? How much good is unfailing prophetic insight when people can’t be moved to higher faith without first experiencing the failure of human limitations?
What if the objective was almost never efficiency of action and results, but the change in people? People have to die in order to live morally.
Jesus possessed a prophetic ability to know anything which mattered to His work, even down to the most mundane stuff. We see He seldom bothered, just allowing an awful lot of stuff happen because the whole focus was not the events themselves, in most cases, but the truth and the people involved. When people needed to stick around all day to hear His message, He could produce food for thousands. When His disciples didn’t catch any fish, He caused the nets to almost break with a most unnatural catch. When He needed to pay the Temple tax, He had Peter catch a single fish which had swallowed the correct amount for both of them. Does anyone imagine the material possessions mattered at any point?
Jesus knew who touched Him the crowd, when the woman suffering internal hemorrhaging was healed. But she needed to know, not simply how she was healed, but why. And the crowd needed to know it, too.
Jesus knew that storm was coming, but told His disciples to row into it anyway. They needed to experience the utter disconnect between feeding thousands from a handful of bread against their fear of weather while He was on board the boat. Not as a magic talisman, but it was His presence and a divine mission unfinished. They needed to toss their small thoughts into that sea.
Jesus knew the blind man could be healed without washing off the clay. There was nothing special about the procedure. His disciples needed a lesson about human sorrow, that simplistic views about sin were a huge mistake. The man needed to see up close the stupidity of the Sanhedrin, so he could share that with others. The Sanhedrin needed a lesson, too. In the end, another soul came to spiritual life.
Jesus could have healed a lot more people than that one fellow near the Pool of Bethesda. Healing was not the point, but pointing out the godless fallacy of hindering healing on any day of the week. If God alone does miracles, how could He be unhappy with someone miraculously healed on the Sabbath?
Over and over again, Jesus did things which were clearly not aimed at accomplishments as humans view them. His whole commitment was getting out the message, the long lost truth of God’s revelation. He kept looking for ways to poke it in the faces of the Jewish leaders with their twisted logic, and the people who were totally lost, and His disciples who would some day take up the message themselves. It was irritating at times, but Jesus understood all too well His chosen crew would be among the last people on earth to get it, and would understand almost nothing until He was gone. Then because He would share His Spirit among them, they would be the only ones with sufficient experience to do much with it right away.
Critical to our understanding His mind was the complete willingness to let people be wrong. He was willing to let them fail over and over, because He had all the time in the world. There was no need to correct every little error, despite how annoying things could be that way. His calculus of input and output in terms of change had nothing to do with personality inventories, measuring the demographics and calculating economic factors, or anything else. Do you suppose He didn’t know His hometown would try to kill Him? And why did He just “have” to go through Samaria, enemy territory?
This was the lesson He tried to teach when Martha fussed about Mary not helping with dinner preparation. He more or less finished that lesson for Martha when He didn’t hurry to heal their brother Lazarus, but let Him die. It was the same reason He didn’t raise any of the other dead bodies resting in that cemetery. And He surely knew the big shots would report this and how Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin would decide that day He had to die. It’s the same moral reason He was willing to die on the Cross for no valid human reason.
You cannot fix broken humanity without changing their natures completely. You cannot make that change en masse no matter how you try. It has to be one at a time, individual by individual. Nor can you pull strings and manipulate them across the threshold. It has to be a miracle, or it doesn’t happen at all.
Jesus warned about driving demons out and not filling the empty space with something better. It was the same reason God told Moses He would not drive out the Canaanites all at once. Miracles sweeping the deck clean are fine, but now we have to occupy that living space, and it has to be occupied in the natural timing of human rhythms, or it won’t bring about the divine imperatives. Not everyone with a demon is ready to be set free. Those who are ready often need little more than the knowledge it can be done.
You can build a community around this change in souls, but you can’t keep out people like Judas. All those miracles Judas saw didn’t change him. The Transfiguration and all the miracles the other disciples saw didn’t prevent them fleeing from the arrest in the Garden. Jesus knew that was coming, too. He had His big basket of forgiveness ready.
People have to be ready at their own pace, and God alone knows that pace. Sometimes there is not a blessed thing you can do for someone, and you need to develop a divine sensitivity for that. Nothing you have to do is more important than the people involved.
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