Some people should add ‘argumentative’ to their self-description. Some Christians have arguing down to a ‘fine science.’ At the slightest provocation, at times without even requested, they pick fights with others and spend endless energy trying to ‘straighten’ out the wrong positions that others hold.
In Mark 6:30-37, Jesus teaches his disciples a pivotal lesson. Guided by the Spirit of God, Jesus predicts his deliverance, death and resurrection which will soon occur. He is on a mission, and will soon complete the work God the Father had sent him to do.
The disciples missed the point of the message, as often we do, yet did not explore the unanswered questions in their minds. They ‘were afraid to ask him‘ about what he had just said. They were not afraid to revert to their natural, sin-bent focus of pride and position. Somehow this topic was more ‘natural,’ much easier to engage mental energy in as they travelled together.
Arriving at Capernaum, their regional ‘home base,’ Jesus confronts them with their sin. You can’t walk with Jesus and not own up to thoughts, words and deeds which contradict the will of God. Confession is part of daily Christian living.
“They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” Here’s their chance, they can all own up to the evil they had just committed. “But they kept quiet…” Why? “…because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.”
Wasn’t Jesus the greatest? Isn’t he the greatest in their company? Isn’t he called Master, Lord, King of kings? But though he was with them, they lost sight of him, and pursued their own selfish agenda. Don’t we do the same? Don’t we forget who he is, and we seek to impress others with who we are? More than ever, our selfishness exudes through our pictures, our profiles, our profit-less conversations, and at times arguments, even with other believers.
At this juncture, the disciples were ‘missing the point.’ They were following the One who would be delivered–yet they wanted to be deliverers. They were following the One who would be killed and rise again, in a selfless act the world has yet to replicate–yet they demonstrated a selfishness that was astounding.
How does Jesus press home the truth of selfless, simple acceptance and obedience? He takes a little child, places this ‘kid’ in the midst of a group of adult men, and urges imitation. “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
Child-like…NOT CHILDISH…that is the standard! Acceptance…NOT ARGUMENTATIVE…that is the standard! Will they ever learn this lesson? Will we ever learn it, or will we press on with OUR ways, OUR ideas, OUR standards, yet profess to follow the Servant-King? To be or not to be argumentative, that is the question!