We’ve all been there.
Family. Friends. Circumstances. Places we’ve been.
Someone says something. Asks a question. Says something that you know will provoke others. And we start to shift a little in our seat.
Someone is wearing something; a rival team’s shirt, a slogan that is provocative, or something out of place. Something that just doesn’t fit the occasion, the group, or the room.
There is a tension in the room. You walk in and it’s evident that there is more going on than can be easily seen but you can sense a problem and now you’re not sure what to do.
Maybe it’s silence. Silence can be overwhelming. Silence can be a dominant force in a room or situation.
And we FEEL uncomfortable. We don’t like uncomfortable. In fact, those who go about provoking don’t like uncomfortable, they are actually provoking so that the response to them is predictable.
Jesus is uncomfortable. Jesus is uncomfortable to those who reject God. Jesus is uncomfortable to those who say they seek to honor God.
In the story of the man with the withered hand, Jesus’ command is simple; stretch out your hand. As the man did so, he was healed. Jesus did not touch him. Jesus did not say anything that could have been prescribed or described as work. And the religious folks went into a tailspin. Here are a few applications for us; us religious folks, who seek to honor God.
- Simple questions about culture, behavior, and our witness among others can sometimes set us into a tailspin. This reflects the possibility that our reliance is more upon our performance than upon a dependence upon Jesus.
- We should be willing to become uncomfortable. I have learned over my 42 years on earth that if you want an opinion on something – ask a Christian. Most of us are going to give an earnest, factual (at least in our mind), answer on just about any topic; movie watching, national politics, global politics, weather, health concerns, and on and on. This often speaks to our unwillingness to be uncomfortable. Since we KNOW the answer there is no reason to give any consideration to the question, or more specifically, the questioner.
And yet the man was healed. A life was changed. Those who KNEW what SHOULD happen went away fuming. Jesus gave a parting shot that still challenges me today.
“I ask you, which is lawful on the Sabbath: to do good or to do evil, to save life or to destroy it?”Jesus, in a first century synagogue