Temple Conflict

During Lent I am reading through John with others in Kairos. Occasionally I will post a thought about a passage here.

Todays reading: John 2: 12 – 25

I love the wine-making Jesus of yesterday’s story but to be honest I’m more uncomfortable with the Jesus I see in today’s.

Zealously overturning tables in the temple, refusing to cooperate when asked to back up claims with miracle-action, not trusting people. This guy is hard to follow!

I would be more likely to keep the peace, at very best have a quiet word with a temple administrator about how upsetting I found the market stall.

I would probably scramble to provide some kind of miracle, if I couldn’t get a real one then at least something impressive to keep people on side.

And I would love the praise, the feeling of success when people listened. And would feel dejected when they left later on.

It’s a really good thing I’m not Jesus!

But here is the thing, I know discipleship is becoming more like him, not just taking the bits I’m comfortable with but also, especially, the harder parts. So I know discipleship means becoming more willing to take on conflict, less ready to give people what they want straight away, wiser about what humans are like and how much of my identity I place in their hands.

Today my prayer so simple: Make me more like you Jesus, including in the characteristics I find hard.

What do you find hard about Jesus?
What are you learning this Lent?

Wine and Weddings

Throughout Lent I am reading through John’s gospel along with a few other people from Kairos.

Today’s reading is the Wedding at Cana from John 2.  I love this story,  It’s good that Jesus is at this party.  I like that he is a bit grumpy with his mum and I love that his first recorded miracle (in John at least) is to produce a lot of wine.

As I read this story today I noticed that Jesus takes over when the party organisers’ efforts have ended.  He makes the miracle when the wine has run out.  But I notice there is still some collaboration required.  He doesn’t just produce the wine from thin air.  He turns the water they already have into wine.

H and I are doing final preperations for a day conference we are helping run tomorrow at Kairos, for us it’s a pretty big deal.  So today I’m praying that Jesus would be at that party too, that the wine one we’ve prepared would go down well (Its a metaphor now, no wine tomorrow people) and that when it’s run out he’d take whatever we have left and turn it into the best.

Actually I’m praying that for a few areas of my life right now: take what I’ve got God, even when it has all run out and turn it into good wine.

If your are reading along in John feel free to add your thoughts below.


Blessed is the one whom God corrects;
so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.
For he wounds, but he also binds up;
he injures, but his hands also heal.
From six calamities he will rescue you;
in seven no harm will touch you.
In famine he will deliver you from death,
and in battle from the stroke of the sword.
You will be protected from the lash of the tongue,
and need not fear when destruction comes.
You will laugh at destruction and famine,
and need not fear the wild animals…

…We have examined this, and it is true.
So hear it and apply it to yourself.

From Job 5

Job loses everything,  seemingly at God’s hands.  His friends come to see him and to offer some comfort, this is what one says.

Looks good,  even resonates with other parts of the bible (Psalm 94 for example).

But at the end of the book God is angry with the friends.  They have “not spoken of me what is right.”  Makes me think about St Paul’s famous clanging gongs.

They’re right,  but they’re very very wrong.

I love bits of the bible like this,  where it just gets a little bit messy,  challenging, real..

But bits like this scare me too:  Where am I getting it right,  but am actually wrong?

Help me God,  to know your truth.  Help me to handle that truth humbly,  gently and carefully.  Guide me Holy Spirit. Amen.

I’ve written a couple of posts

on the missional communities blog recently.  As the blog title might suggest, they’re a bit more technical/church focussed than the stuff you’ll usually get over here.

The first is about how to get your community excited about reading the bible.

and the other is about seasons, pruning and rest.

Go have a look if you are interested, and let me know your thoughts over there.

Ordinary and Spectacular

I’ve been thinking about the different stories about Jesus’ resurrection in the days since Easter.  One thing that has struck me again is how many times food is involved.  Jesus cooks fish, breaks bread and eats with his friends when he comes to see them.  What that all about?

I think one of the things that the foody bits in these stories are pointing too is ordinariness.  There is something very normal and fleshed out about cooking, sitting down and eating.  People need to do it, and often people really enjoy doing it.

The normality of eating is about the only ordinary thing about all these stories.  Isn’t that the whole thing about the resurrection?  It’s not normal, it’s the start of something totally new.  Its completely outrageous and “oh my goodness I can’t believe it” surprising. God is all of those things too; He’s spectacular, amazing, outrageous and terrifying. But the Christian story suggests that in some ways he also makes himself normal and ordinary.

At the end of one of these stories, in Luke 24, Jesus tells his followers to stay put in Jerusalem until he has sent them “what the Father has promised…power from on high”.  This connects the story with happens next, the story of Acts and all the great things the early church did with the power of the Holy Spirit.  

In many ways its the Holy Spirit who carries on Jesus work of mixing outrageous God-ness and ordinaryness today.  Its the Spirit who does remarkable miracles from time to time,  but also meets normal people in the every day, ordinary miracles of life.

As we finish up our chocolate eggs (we got a lot in our house) and think about all that’s going on in this new season,  I’m praying I would experience that same mix of extra-ordinary and ordinary in my life, and help those around me to experience it too.  I’m asking God to let his spectacular power come into the everyday, normal and straightforward things I do from day to day;  the tasks I have to do, the people I meet,  the things that occupy my life.  Maybe you’d like to ask God to do the same thing for you.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

Colossians 3:23-24 NIVUK

A timely reminder for me as I commute into college after a full-on weekend. Hope it encourages you as you get on with whatever you do today.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 2

Increasingly I’m realising just how much I need to hear God’s good news;  I need to be evangelised.  As I sat down to read these famous words this morning I was already thinking about some viral video I didn’t agree with.  Getting all uptight about about people I thought were wrong.

But I need to remember that actually,  I’m just as much in error.   I wonder if this is really the summary of Jesus’ message:

“Your wrong,  God is so much better than that.”

Its certainly what I hear most as I look at the Jesus-stories and think about my life, my preferences and my prejudices.

The word that jumped out at me today was humility:  considering others better than yourself.  I’m trained, by culture and by myself, to not be humble. As a functioning part of consumer society I have been formed to have tastes, to make choices, to have opinions and to consider these all important.  To function in modern life I have become someone who considers himself better than others.

And along comes Jesus,  and once again he says:  you’re wrong.

Help me God,  to live in your humble way.  Amen.