Text: Mark 5:21-43
There’s the old saying: “It’s all a matter of perspective.” You know, the glass is half empty or half full; you’re either the hammer or the anvil; life is what you make of it.” The other day I was getting the oil changed in my truck and while I was sitting in the waiting room at the dealership, I was checking my email on my phone. One of the emails was an advertisement for a Christian conference. It had some catchy title I don’t remember, but I do remember the caption below it: “Keeping Christ first and at the center of your life.”
It’s a pretty common concept, isn’t it? Christ and God at the center of our lives. Isn’t that the goal, the sweet spot for every Christian? Through thick and thin, good or bad, the ups and downs….God first. God at the center. As I read this morning’s text this past week, the perspective of God first and at the center of our lives got me thinking: how does that affect how we read these stories about Jairus and this hemorrhaging woman? If it’s about Jairus and this woman keeping God at the center of their lives, or at least the idea that God is at the center of their lives, just what kind of faith and what kind of life is that?
I would seem that Jairus has an easier time of it. He’s a leader of the synagogue, he’s got some clout, and so he’s got sort of a backstage, all access pass to Jesus. All he has to do is walk up to Jesus and make his request: “heal my daughter” and no one questions him for doing it, save for a few skeptical laughs that Jesus can actually raise his daughter from the dead. The woman on the other hand, healing is a bit harder to come by. Her bleeding makes her unclean, so to even touch Jesus would be a violation of religious laws and customs. Add to that fact she’s a woman…..she’d be lucky to just get Jesus’ customer service to answer the phone much less get through the lengthy screening process. So she has to sneak around, fight her way through the crowds, and try to touch Jesus and walk away undetected.
If a life of faith is about keeping God first, keeping Christ at the center of our lives, then the implication is that well, it doesn’t work the same for everyone. Access to Jesus is a walk in the park for some, and a constant battle for others. Not everyone has the same access. There’s a pecking order in the Kingdom of God; it’s based on status, who you are, and whether your fit the norms and rules of the day. And then there’s the whole thing about healing in our modern day world: what does it mean when our longing and prayers for healing go seemingly unanswered? Does it mean that God is NOT at the center of my life? And what does that say about the Kingdom of God?
Now I understand the perspective of God being at the center of our lives…..I see how that works for people. But perhaps such a narrow perspective keeps us from a different perspective this morning:
What if God isn’t at the center of OUR lives, but rather, we’re at the center of GOD’S?
What if Jesus was right when he announced that the Kingdom of God had come near to us, and not the other way around?
In our text today, despite all the complexities around who has access to the Kingdom of God, the implications on what that means to live a life of faith, and if we can even do that well, people like you and I find themselves caught up in Jesus’ healing power and the Kingdom of God. Jairus is standing there with his backstage VIP pass and the woman standing there, having snuck past the crowds and Jesus’ security guards. The wailing and crying and scoffing and skeptics are caught up in it too. The Kingdom of God isn’t anything like Disney’s Magic Kingdom where all life’s problems go away. The Kingdom of God is the grace and power of God coming near to us in a messy, complex world and catching us up in something completely different: the wholeness and healing that comes when God’s grace raises us out of hopelessness and despair that crushes and kills people on a daily basis….people, whom God loves.
And if the Kingdom of God is indeed that near, if we all truly are already standing at the center of God’s life, then we as Jesus’ disciples, we as the church have to ask: how have people’s access been limited to it, whether intentionally or unintentionally? Are there barriers and attitudes and boundaries that exist that push people to the margins of the Kingdom, and how do we work to remove them so those same people might turn towards God and believe in the good news that they are at the center of God’s life?
While we do that discernment and work, let us remember that no matter where we find ourselves in this life or in our faith; no matter what OUR perspective might be, we always find ourselves at the center of Jesus’ life and the Kingdom of God. Amen.