“To what can I compare the people of this generation?” Jesus asked. “How can I describe them? They are like children playing a game in the public square. They complain to their friends,
‘We played wedding songs,
and you didn’t dance,
so we played funeral songs,
and you didn’t weep.’
For John the Baptist didn’t spend his time eating bread or drinking wine, and you say, ‘He’s possessed by a demon.’ The Son of Man, on the other hand, feasts and drinks, and you say, ‘He’s a glutton and a drunkard, and a friend of tax collectors and other sinners!’ But wisdom is shown to be right by the lives of those who follow it.”
Jesus pointed out to people that their expectations of John and Jesus were contradictory. He used a metaphor, or riddle, of children playing, to get his point across. The children complained to their friends that they didn’t get happy with their happy songs or get sad with their sad songs. In other words, it didn’t matter what song they played, the others didn’t join in. In the same way, John turned up and John didn’t drink alcohol – in fact his diet was a bit odd, being locusts and honey – and because of this, some people accused him of being oppressed by a demon! Jesus, on the other hand turned up eating and drinking alcohol and they accused him of being a drunk!
Jesus told the people that wisdom was shown to be wise by the fruits of that wisdom. In other words, as we say in England, ‘the proof of the pudding is in the eating’. If John and Jesus were truly wise then this would be proved to be the case.
Both John and Jesus had different styles, but both led people to God. It wasn’t the style of ministry that was important but the call to turn back to God. John backed up Jesus and Jesus backed up John – even though Jesus, ultimately was ‘the one’ for whom John was preparing the way. In the same way, Christians have different styles of leading people, or connecting to God. Some like traditional worship, others contemporary worship. Some like silence, others volume. Some like formality, others informality. Some like lots of words, others less. Some like singing, some don’t. It is not the style that’s important but the substance – the heart. The danger is, when we put our own expectations on churches or leaders; thinking that our style is the ‘right way’ and belittle or invalidate the style of others. For when we do this, we’ve lost our own substance and heart.
Today, can you think of a Christian community, or a church, that does things in a way you think is wrong, weird or irrelevant? Time to take a bite of humble pie and recognise that it is substance and not style that matters. Thank God for them!
Forgive me for thinking that my way is right,
and that everyone else’s way is wrong.
Get me on my knees, that from the floor,
I might get a correct perspective.
Thank you that we are all so wonderfully different,
that as Christians we express your diversity and creativity.
Help me find a Christian community where I can be me,
and make a difference for you in the world.
This day and forever.
How did you come to God – was it quick or slow, overt or covert, noisily or quietly, or are you still on the journey?