Tuesday, July 12, 2011

We fought so hard against the small things...

We fought so hard against the small things that we became small ourselves. - Eugene O'Neill
     Let's consider two stories.
   The first is happening across Europe, right now. A number of European nations are facing the worst financial times their countries have ever known.  Greece is on the brink of complete collapse because of their overwhelming debt. One report is that the value of Greek bonds potentially at risk is worth $154 billion US Dollars. The internal conflict between their citizens, who appear resistant to the changes necessary to steer them away from the cliff, and their elected leadership has led to deadly violence. In addition to Greece, Portugal and Ireland are both in dire financial straits.  But, added to these unfolding tragedies this week is the news that Italy is now on the brink of a collapse, and that the other nations of the European Union will soon be asked to help bail them out.  You can read about it here in the New York Times
We would agree this is weighty and significant. These are big things. Unfortunately, the second most significant player in the EU based on strength of leadership and finances is distracted right now. Many Americans have been following the news out of London about the tabloid newspaper scandal there which is exposing the fact that journalists were tapping the phones of prominent officials and then essentially blackmailing them for information. It has gotten ugly all the way up to the office of Prime Minister, the highest in the nation. Now, I don't know everything going on over there, but it seems to me that the financial crisis in Europe would be helped if the best and brightest were able to focus on the big things needing the most attention.  Alas, in England they are caught up in the small things.
   The second story, equally true, happened some time ago. Jesus, walking out in front of his disciples as they traveled, overhears their conversation. He later asks them what they were talking about and they sheepishly admit to arguing over who among them was the most important (Mark 9). The tragedy is that they are fighting about a small thing, when just two chapters before Jesus formally started preparing them for what will come later in Jerusalem.  He will willingly sacrifice his life to set into motion the very acts of God that, one later writer describes, will bring about the redemption of the universe (see Ephesians 1:1-7).  All things will be restored because of what Jesus will do, but on this day the disciples are arguing about something selfish and petty. Focusing on small things can reduce the size of a person.
   The lesson for my life is easily grasped. What size are the things I am wrestling with? Am I engaged with matters that really matter, or am I focused on small things that potentially cause me to become small myself? 
   Grace and Peace, Scott

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