01 January 2014

Peter's Mother-in-law: Not for Me

Matthew 8:14-15

I have been healed,
but not for me alone.
I have been restored,
not to look selfishly to myself.

No - you have healed me
to be the sunshine of this home,
a light for all this family,
to share the gifts you gave to me -
they are not mine to keep.

I have been healed,
but not for me alone.
I have been restored
to spread this thanks
throughout the world,
my joy in you,
your love for me.

Look, Lord,
I give you what I have,
though it is small.
Take my time this afternoon,
take a seat at this table of mine,
take this food I cooked for you.
Be my guest
and let me serve you
in the small ways that I can,
with the little that I own -
for all I own is yours.

I have been healed
to serve you, Lord,
and I have been restored
to restore others.


[May 2012] [Commentary January 2014]

This one was triggered by an experience in one of my churches. It's a sad story, really. At that time I got the impression that members of that church were becoming very much focused on simply consuming, becoming inward-looking, concerned mainly with what God does for them or gives them or promises them, and not as interested in service, involvement and missions. After a sermon that had basically the same message as the second-to-last stanza of this poem (giving what we have to Jesus, even if we think it's just something little), someone went up on the stage and gave a response that showed the sermon had not really been understood, focusing on the gifts only and not the service we can / should do in thanks for those gifts. (If I remember right. It was all very long ago. We all ended up pretty upset. It was a mission event too, actually, and the focus just ended up being turned on inward-looking again.)

Now don't misunderstand me: it is good to rejoice about what God gives us. But what kind of rejoicing or thanks is it if we just take, take, take? If our only answer is "thank you"?

Maybe you need to know more about my understanding of worship. You see, I don't think singing songs is all there is to true, full worship. I think true worship is service. True worship is when we lead more voices to join in God's praise. That's why so many of the Psalms have the imperative "Praise the Lord!" - it's not just one person praising God, but a call to others to praise Him. So I also think going to church and singing songs and saying "thank you" is not all there is to thanksgiving.

And here we get to this lady: Peter's mother-in-law did not just say "thank you". Although she had a right to. She had just been sick. Now you can say Jesus' healing powers were so great that she did not need a recovery time, but still. After you've been sick you might want a little spoiling, a little rest. This lady got straight up and served Jesus. She said thank you by giving what she had, by giving him the gift of her hospitality.

So I think we should not just sit there and say "thank you" but get up and do "thank you". We are blessed by God in order to be a blessing. (Gen 12:2-3) Not to lock up the blessing in a treasure chest and sit on it and be happy. Do something with the borrowed talent, multiply it, and not bury it in the ground. (Mt 25:14-30) The guy in the parable who buried the talent in the ground did it out of fear - isn't it just as bad to bury it out of the wish to just enjoy it for oneself? The Gospel is not a toy to look at, it's meant to be shared. God's gifts and promises are not only for us; sure they are to be rejoiced over and enjoyed, but isn't a joy shared more real than selfish joy that wants to shut everyone else out?

So, rant over. ^^; I'll scuttle back to the paper I should be writing...

I didn't know there were any pictures of this scene - there's some nice ones, the one here is by Rembrandt.
Wish there were a picture of her serving though.

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