In our hyper-sensitive cultural moment, anyone given a position of authority, from parents, to teachers, elected officials, supervisors, CEOs, CFOs, COOs, CPAs, etc., there is aggravated risk of discontentment, even outrage, lawsuits, threats of all kinds. Anger is on display by demonstrating in the streets, blocking bridges and roadways, going on strike, setting things on fire, and many more besides. Accepting any ‘the buck stops here’ assignments is truly to stick one’s neck out, to become the proverbial mole in the game, Whack-a-Mole, to become the brunt of the vitriol of the perpetually offended. Beyond all legitimate issues, there are wildly disproportionate responses to situations which call for cooler heads and calmer tempers, to sit down together and begin respectful dialogue. Here in the US, liability insurance premiums have skyrocketed of late, to the extent that many fully qualified individuals are quitting their positions, and choosing less responsible, less visible, employment.
Scripture tells us that when the time was right, God sent His Son to us. We believe God chose the perfect time, the perfect place, the perfect Ambassador, for the mission. Despite this ‘rightness,’ pushback-cum-hatred was all too evident during Jesus’ public ministry. To the Jewish elites, Jesus posed a massive threat to their position, their authority, the highly esteemed, wealthy post they enjoyed within Judaism. To the Roman occupiers, Jesus’ popularity made governing messy, threatening the peace and order on which Caesar insisted. These two disparate groups, Jewish leaders and Roman officials, eventually came together in a combined attempt to quiet the Jesus storm that was brewing. The confounding thing was that Jesus persisted in staying visible, advancing his cause, expanding the numbers of his followers despite the growing opposition, the thinly veiled threats (couldn’t he take the hint and just go away?).
I cringe at this commitment of Jesus which he lived out as an example before his disciples because it is also an example for me. Staying visible invites negative feedback, anger, disapproval, rejection, even hatred. In Jesus’ case, staying visible cost him his life (and simultaneously brought me life). I’m being stretched on this journey of discipleship to recognize that what may cost me greatly may simultaneously be the bringing of life to others. Like Jesus, I have a choice: to complete the mission I’ve been given by letting my little light shine or hide it safely away where no one can see it or be bothered by it, but in so doing, fall short of what He’s called me to do. It’s no longer my life anyway, is it? He never asks me to do anything which is not fully covered by his provision, does he? I only discover the peace that passes understanding as I walk in obedience, do I not? I can only thrill to extravagant, promised joy, as I follow faithfully in Jesus’ footsteps, isn’t that so? Well then, here’s to his life in me, his provision, his peace, his joy! PD