January 28, 2013

You Never Had A Friend Like Me

My favorite Disney movie is Aladdin. I like the story line, the music, the setting, and the characters. Jafar even is is my favorite Disney villain with Ursula the sea witch a very close second. There is something about his dark sinister voice that I have always liked.

Truth be told, I am just jealous that I didn't turn out to be a baritone.

But my favorite character in the movie is, of course the Genie voiced masterfully by Robin Williams. The Genie is in his own words, a being with phenomenal cosmic power, and itty bitty living space. While there are many good lines, the one that I find most interesting is this;

Genie: "But oh, to be free. Not to have to go "Poof! Whaddaya need," "Poof! Whaddaya need," "Poof! Whaddaya need?". To be my own master. Such a thing would be greater than all the magic and all the treasures in all the world. But what am I talking about? Let's get real here, that's never gonna happen. Genie, wake up and smell the hummus." 

The sign Jesus preforms and the speech he gives in John Chapter 6 , reminds me of that wish somewhat.

Once Jesus feed the 5000, and the people ate their fill, a thought seems to grip the crowd. ‘Jesus just might be the prophet and leader we were waiting for. He just might be the Messiah. He just might be the person to beat back the Romans and restore the Kingdom of Israel to its former glory and finally take hold of the entire promised lands!

This could be it, and they were so determined to see that happen they were going to force Jesus to be their king!

*Clap, Clap, Clap* Second Best Song Of The Movie, Prince Ali Is My Favorite 

I want you to stop and reflect on that thought for a second. Can you force someone to be your king? Doesn't king imply that authority and power run the other way? I mean I know people can rise up and remove a king. Likewise I know that mass of risen people can appoint a new king, a person who likely was leading them to begin with. We have seen this sort of thing happen before a number of times throughout history.

But has any person ever been forced to become a king by the will of the masses? I don't think this has happened, or even can happen.

More to the point I don’t think this crowd really wants a king. They wants a genie. They want someone with access to phenomenal cosmic power and someone that they can control for their own desires.

At the most basic level, they wanted more free bread. They didn't chased Jesus around the Sea of Galilee to hear more of his teachings, to become full disciples, or even to pledge their allegiance to him. They chased after him because they wanted more food.

Before we look at this crowd to negatively we have to ask ourselves, do we approach God in this way?

There are more than a few so called Christian ministries that for a small donation would be happy to send to you a green prayer prosperity handkerchief that will make your dreams come true. This group of people, if you do not mind me saying so, are treating Jesus like a genie not a king.

But there are times when I am no better. When my faith wavers because I am not getting the things that I want, at the pace that I set out.

I get disheartened or even angry because I thought I had God in my corner, looking out for me, providing for me, serving me.

And that is the problem. There are times when I think God serves me, my needs, my wants, my dreams. I can forget that I serve him, that I am to forward his will, and his kingdom, and I am to be transformed into the image of his son who sacrificed everything for the sake of others.

The God we worship presents us with a paradox. He is undoubted more powerful than any problem we could face. He could with a simple, metaphorical, wave of his hand grant us everything we ever wanted. He could get rid of every evil and every pain in our lives, and he could grant us more joy than we ever wished for.Yet, in all likelihood he will not do that. Instead he will allow difficulties into our lives, and he many deny us some of our joys, which little explanation at all.

This teaching proved too difficult for most if not all of the crowd that Jesus feed, they turned and deserted him. The twelve remaining said this, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.’ They saw that even though Jesus was unwilling to be a genie, he was worth to be called king.

The question we have to answer is; will we come to God hoping he will grant us our wishes or will we place our faith and trust in him as our king?