Label

It’s amazing how much stuff we humans accumulate. Especially when we’re kids!

Last week, after tripping over one.more.thing. while tucking the girls in at night, I decided it was room-cleaning time. Though we try to make light ‘pick-ups’ part of our routine, every now and then we need a total overhaul! And with a lost library book as extra motivation, it was time.

Picking the stuff up was the easy part. Figuring out what to do with all the stuff was the problem. Is it trash? Recycling? Donation? Are you sure you need to keep that?

As the process dragged on, it was hard not to think about how much easier it would have been to go through the room myself. As an adult, I have 40-ish years of experience with “stuff,” and as their mom, I know what should be labeled “keep” and what should be labeled “GO”. But convincing them of that was a much harder task!

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When one of our students wants to start reading the Bible, I usually suggest they start with the book of Mark. It’s short, so it’s reasonable to set as a goal and Mark’s “to the point” writing makes it easy to get a solid picture of who Jesus is.

One of the themes that’s easy to pick up on in the first two chapters is Mark’s emphasis on Jesus’ authority. Proclaiming Him from verse one as the unique and only “Son of God,” Mark then tells of Jesus receiving a sign of this authority at His baptism: “And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’” (1:10-11)

Then, without wasting any time, Mark dives right into the proof. In verse 22, he describes that those in the synagogue “were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.” In verse 27, they were “all amazed” that ‘”He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”’ Verses 40-41 describe Jesus’ authority over disease and the human body: “‘If you will, you can make me clean.’… ‘I will; be clean.’” Chapter two begins with Jesus using this authority over the human body to prove His ability to forgive sin.

In our 21st century American life, the word “authority” makes us roll our eyes. We like to make our own decisions and be the judge of what’s right for us. We’re self-aware and know what we can handle, after all. We’re also experts on labeling our “sin” and deciding whether or not we can keep it.

In our “relationship with Jesus”-focused 21st century Christianity, it’s easy to forget that Jesus is not only “friend,” but also “Lord”. Yes, He loves and cares for me. Yes, He is filled with compassion and I can lean on Him for support. But I can’t forget that when I signed up to receive Him, I also received His authority into my life.

My heart is as frustrating as my kids’ room in the dark – it seems like I keep getting tripped up on one.more.thing I didn’t know was there. And the worst part is when Jesus comes in and starts telling me what to do about it! After labeling it with its real name (I’d prefer if He kept it a little more ‘politically correct’), He tells me what to do with it. Then, if I don’t do it, He keeps bugging me about it. (Recently, after several attempts, He got me to get rid of my ‘guilty pleasure’ TV show – He can be a real stinker sometimes!)

There are days when I wonder why He doesn’t just get it over with and clean me up, already. Surely with all that authority and experience, He could just snap His fingers and with a ‘spoonful of sugar,’ make it all go away.

But as a good parent, Jesus knows the process is more important. He knows “relationship” happens when I make the choice to acknowledge His authority by agreeing with Him about my sin and then obeying His instructions about it!

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