More than Active Listening, God Was One of Us


19th Sunday after Pentecost: Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12

We live in a time when we are aware of the suffering that people outside of our region or circles experience. This awareness is important because often our ease and comfort is at the expense of someone else whether we know it or not. The discomfort of awareness sometimes makes us talk more. We want to say the right things, but it’s important to listen. It’s only through listening that we can understand, to not be a part of the problem. We might even be able to be a part of the solution. However, no amount of listening will ever convey to us what another people group’s suffering is like to them.

Think of your own pain, your successes, your joys, and anything you overcame to get there. Experiences are intertwined and can be hard to describe. Soldiers who’ve just met can connect immediately if they’ve had similar deployments, because they know the other “gets” something that most people don’t. We feel “at home” around others who are like us, especially in the areas where we’re rejected or marginalized.

So when advertisers, politicians, or others that hold power, try to use our experiences of marginalization as their platform it can feel mixed. At this point in history it seems like this is happening with every issue or group, either positively or negatively. Are the people with the microphone raising awareness because they care? Does this issue simply correlate with something they already wanted to do? Am I being used to further this person’s career? These are all valid questions. It’s hard to know who is an ally and who’s making a name for themselves.

God knew reconciling us would mean more than listening, it would mean becoming one of us. Jesus left his place of power and became powerless. He wasn’t powerless just because he was a baby–he was a baby that the king wanted dead. Jesus left his place of privilege and was born into a family that carried no importance in their society. People reminded him of that even as an adult when he started to teach,

“Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon?” Mark 6:3 NIV

Jesus left the place where he experienced constant communal love within the trinity, and came to earth where he would have to sneak away to pray to connect with God. In addition to that Jesus experienced rejection and betrayal.

Jesus takes up our cause and invites us into his family. He doesn’t just send a list of detailed instructions on how to be like God. He isn’t content to shrug and conclude that we must not really want salvation if we’re not willing to be perfect. Jesus takes the first step by becoming one of us and living out God’s law, summed up by him as,

“ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31 NIV

Jesus isn’t using your issues to get your votes, he didn’t just listen to your problems to give better advice. You’re not God’s poster child. Jesus lived your problems. Jesus calls you family and now advocates on your behalf from a place of power.

Photo credit: by Cody Board on Unsplash

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