What (or whom) are you obsessed with right now?
I remember having a meal one day on campus with a student named Steve when I was a graduate student. He was someone I had beaten in racquetball many times and he was upset. He just could not admit that I was a better racquetball player.
He was talking loudly (and excitedly) about how he was going to beat me next time. His big plans would be ultimate victory over me on the court, then he would graduate “with honors” (i.e., bragging rights), and go onto to a great business career as a Christian leader. He was talking incessantly, while I was drawing on a napkin.
I waited until he took a bite out of his sandwich, and posed a question. “Hey Steve, what do you see?” as I revealed my doodling. “Uh, it looks like two Pepsi bottles,” he replied. And he added, “There is something in one of the bottles that I can’t decipher what it actually is.” I replied, “That is an image of a thick pencil.” “What is the point?” he asked. I added, “Well, this bottle is you, Steve.” I pointed to the shaded in pencil-looking bottle and said, “You’ve got a few things going for you, Steve, but you are full of yourself. You won’t go far without an attitude adjustment.”
He sat there speechless for a moment, partly due to the ham and cheese bite he was in the process of swallowing. But then he reacted, “Who you think you are, talking to me that way?” It was an awkward moment, but I responded, “I am a friend who cares for you.”
No one like being confronted, but Steve eventually got my point. It can be the most natural thing to miss a blind spot and make plans as if nothing (even God) could interfere. Yet a blind spot such as pride and/or arrogance could curtail any plans you have.
Read John 4:7-14, 27-38.
In John 4, we read about an instance when Jesus put the needs of another person ahead of Himself. He was hot, dry, and thirsty after a dusty walking road trip from Judea to Samaria. Yet he turned his own thirst into an opportunity to share the good news of the gospel (v 7-14), with a woman, and a Samaritan woman at that.
The disciples of Jesus, on the other hand, had gone into town to buy food (v 8). Ok. Nothing wrong with that. How else were they going to eat? But when they returned to meet up with Jesus, he showed them how he had bridged social, racial, and cultural barriers (v 9) to extend the influence of the Kingdom of God.
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of God who sent me” (v 34). Jesus gave them a challenge to open their eyes and look at their fields (v 35). He saw a harvest of people who were dying without God. Do we get Jesus’ point? Or are we too pre-occupied with our own plans and needs?
Think theologically. Steve changed his me-only perspective and learned to be others-centered. You won’t get ahead if you are too full of yourself and not full enough of Jesus.
Love is a verb,
©2018 by Mike Olejarz