Sometimes when I work I go to a diner or a coffee shop. I think about the texts I am using and go through my thinky-thoughts. Doing this in public means that I am inviting the energies of the room to mingle with my reflections of the words I am studying and writing. Today I am looking at Luke 17 while I am in a public space. I feel awkward because of the text. It is one that I have never liked very much but today I see it in a different way. It says that Jesus is talking to his disciples and then it says he is talking to his apostles. Two different sets of people but both are leaders in his movement. This is not just “a crowd”. He speaks of rebuking someone when they sin and then forgiving them. In another teaching he says, “So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’” While reading I think about how glad I am that I am not preaching on this passage.
As I stumble over my feelings, trying to move ahead in my reading which is preparing me for the part of the reading I am actually going to use, I have to stop. I can’t pretend that this doesn’t exist … that it isn’t in the story. What do I do with that? So I stay with my discomfort. I look at the words. I imagine the scene. Soon I begin to wonder if maybe the teaching isn’t so negative. He is not talking to the crowd. He is talking to his potential leaders. He is talking to pastors, counselors, spiritual directors, prophets, and organizers. We are not God. Most of the time we remember that. We don’t know God. Rarely do we remember that. We know our relationship with God. We know God’s influence in our lives, at least most of the time we can observe these points of intersection with the Divine. But as leaders we have to wrestle with being servants. Writing in public reminds me that I am not meant to be isolated in my office thinking deep thoughts and receiving direct epiphanies from God to share with my beloved flock. I am a human who loves God with all his heart. I am a minister which means servant. I am one whose job/call it is to think and feel theologically and to share my reflections. This passage of Jesus’ teaching in Luke convicts me and I believe intends to convict other leaders. It is a reminder that we are to be more under the microscope than others.
Sitting in my discomfort while in public is awkward and beautiful.