Seeing Yourself in the Narrative

I have sat through thousands of small group bible discussions and have noticed a trend over the years. We read stories from the gospel narratives, interpreting our observations to apply to our own context and we tend to only relate to certain characters. We read of Jesus healing the blind and the sick and we find hope and encouragement in our infirmities. We see the disciples struggle and we see our own struggles. We relate to the disciples and often the crowds or the needy because that is how we see ourselves. 

Most of the time it takes some real effort for someone to get a small-group to really identify with the pharisees and teachers of the law and take heed of Jesus warnings. It is so easy for us to identify the religious and self righteous attitudes of the characters in the story and it is often easy for us to see such attitudes in other churches or religious groups around us. What seems to be a struggle for us is holding these passages up as a mirror that will expose and correct our own self righteous attitudes. Maybe we relate to the blind because that is where we are and it isn't until Jesus opens our eyes that we will see our own hypocrisy. We read about Jesus saying to the religious leaders that they are like unmarked tombs that make others unclean without anyone knowing it and only rarely are we able to ask how we might be doing the same thing.  We don't say with the teachers of the Law "Rabbi, when you say these things you insult us too."

While us relating to the religious leaders seems rare, what seems even more rare to me is relating to Jesus himself. How can we be a people that are supposedly modelling our lives after him and walking in his ways and almost never see ourselves in His shoes...or sandals I guess. We don't relate to Jesus touching the leper before a healing, we don't relate to him sitting in a religious leaders home and unloading correction on them, we don't relate to adversity of local leadership, we don't relate to his poverty, we don't relate to his having disciples, we just don't. Maybe it is because we are just beginners but I cannot see how we can be comfortable saying we model our lives after this man with a straight face. We cannot continue to read scripture and still, after years of following Him, still only relate to the blind and the lepers. I do think we always will relate to the blind and the lepers because we are actually desperate for Jesus and his compassion in our lives but, we should, at some point relate to our Lord as well.

He is our model and we must start living our lives in a way that we will understand and relate to the stories that we are reading about him. Beyond any interpretation or point we pull from any Jesus narrative, this should become our application. Strive to relate to Jesus. Relate to his prayer life, relate to his experiences teaching disciples, relate to his encounters with power, relate to his encounters with outcasts, and relate to his drive and clarity of purpose. Jesus I do still relate to one who is blind and lame and I cry our desperately, 'Make us like you Jesus.'


  1. Wow. I totally agree with you. It seems to me that whenever I get mad at someone it usually isn't them, but rather something that I forgot to do in loving that person. It goes along with the whole one finger forward three back at you.
    I have a question though. This one always ties me up.
    Can it be selfish to look at ourselves and try to sort stuff out, look at the ways we are hypocrites, and fix it?

    Could that be used as another way of trying to earn God's love, or to kind of be self-righteous in our attempt at humility?

    It's just a question that always bogged my mind, and I feel as though sometimes our insecurities, our faults, can actually help us get closer to the people that God wants us to help, but it can also hinder them too. There has to be a line...
    Every action has a reaction, and every action has a huge impact on the world.
    We are all changing it one breath at a time.
    Thanks. :)

  2. Great question. Possibly the source of another post actually but here is a brief response for now. Your question makes me think of 12 step recovery. What I have come to lov and admire about 12 step spirituality (and think the church could stand to learn quite a bit from) is the gathering around weakness rather than strength. I love that they are communities that welcome all who will take the first step which is acknowledging that their problems are to great and that their lives have become unmanageable.
    Often our experience in churches and faith communities is that we gather around holiness, strength or righteousness rather that our brokenness. Communities of the strong make it dangerous to be a sinner and therefore set an environment in which we surpress our deepest struggles rather than freely confessing them. Its a great paradox. The 12 step community that gathers around their confession of weakness gains great strength toward recovery. They also turn over control of their lives to 'God as I understand God' in surrender. We cannot through our hands up in the air and just say oh well I am weak and can't help it. There are 11 more steps after that affirmation! It is only by surrender and trusting in Gods strength (power greater than yourself) that we can find recovery. Hypocrites where masks. those in recovery get naked. Hypocrates hide their sin and strut their strengths. Jesus calls us to confess our sins but fast, pray and give in secret.
    Great question and I hope to address it more soon!
    Thanks 'Anonymous'


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