Monday, February 08, 2010

I'm not a follower/disciple of Jesus... I am a 'τινα'

During cluster vesper last week, uncle Tan asked us this terrifying question and want us to meditate over it: Who do you think Jesus is?

All of us were stunned. Not that we are not similar with this question in Mark 8.29, but because we are too familiar with it. So we are asked, our familiarity was challenged. And that is the stunning part.

I re-looked at Mark 8 and saw that the question was framed in an urgency. It is a demanding question as much as it is a Christological one. Jesus was not merely asking that question out of nowhere as a chit-chat topic. He was asking his disciples, those who have experienced life together with him.

They saw and had participated in what Jesus did. They heard the most of what Jesus said. Now they are asked who do they think this person whom they have been observing all this while is. The most intriguing part is that after Peter had answered rightly, Jesus immediately warned them not to tell anyone, knowing well how deadly their answer was.

The scenario went this way:
Jesus: Who do people say I am?

Disciples: Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.

Jesus: But what about you? You have followed me around, saw what I did, heard what I said, and experienced life together with me, so who do you think I am?

Peter: You are the promised Messiah who has come to liberate us and the people. And we pledged to fight for you and with you, to participate in your revolution! You are our commander!

Jesus: Shhhhhhhhhh.. Don't let others know! I'm on a covert mission.
Everyone at that time know that the Messiah (a.k.a Christ) is the promised agent who will overturn the empires of the world, to restore the chosen people of God to preeminence. Letting outsiders know that you are the Messiah will only disrupt your mission, as every revolutionists know. Besides, the leaked information will not only jeopardize the mission but will also led the revolutionists to execution if caught. The mission was deadly. Jesus knew it.

After sharing this in the vesper, I naturally confessed that I am not a disciple of Christ. I am too cowardice to call myself a Christian. If I am to follow Christ, I would have stop studying at theological college since all that we are learning are from books. We can learn through books! Theological college is not necessary. The reason why I am here is to get certified; a license known as Bachelor of Divinity (hopefully also a master's degree and a doctorate). A social and public recognition that warrants quality. To facilitate comfortable living hood. Make life convenient. (Mother Teresa does not have a Bachelor of Divinity)

But is not Jesus' mission a covert? Covert doesn't go along with public recognition. If not, Jesus wouldn't have silenced his disciples. He would had ask them to go around and tell everyone that he is the promised Messiah; let everyone recognize him and his disciples as the group that will bring revolution to the land. He did not do that. He knew his mission was deadly. It's dangerous. And he knew that it is stupid to allow this to jeopardize his mission.

Therefore I'm not a disciple nor a follower of Christ. I'm too cowardice to participate in this covert mission. I am scared to be executed. Others thought that being a pastor or a theologian is just another job, to live a middle-class life, to settle down with status quo. But that is furthest from the truth. Jesus and his disciples did not have any of that. Someone once remarked that Jesus came to proclaim the arrival of the Kingdom of God, but the church arrived. There is a lot of observation and subversion in this remark.

Yes, I see Jesus as the Messiah, the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity. I'm not an atheist nor an agnostic. But neither am I his follower. It is not because I do not recognize who Jesus is but precisely because I recognize who he is, how deadly was his mission, and how revolutionary he was. I'm too cowardice. So what am I?

I'm a 'τινα'. It is pronounced 'tina', meaning 'someone'. It is a Greek word from Mark 9.38: "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us."

I'm in the category of that someone, a tina. He was not recognized as belonging to Jesus' group and did not follow Jesus like his disciples did. Yet he recognized Jesus as the Messiah and was carrying out works in his name.

To such tina, Jesus remarked: "Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. For the one who is not against us is for us."

I'm not against Jesus and his disciples, I'm for him and his disciples. But I don't belong to the group. It is too dangerous. I have no balls to join them.

Hopefully such consideration is contemplated with utter seriousness by everyone who consider to be a pastor. Those who are already working as a pastor have to remind others who want to be a pastor about the deadliness of the mission of Jesus and his disciples. When your congregation member approaches you to tell you that he/she has a calling to be a pastor, your first response can be, "Shhhhhhhhhhhh... do you know what does that mean?"

1 comment:

Maria said...

Sze Seng,when following Jesus is equated with comfort and material blessing rather than trouble and persecution, it seems natural that those with self-interest will happily follow the idolised Jesus rather than the covert, subversive Jesus or the secret Jesus we read about in the Gospel of Mark. The demons knew who he was there, not those purporting to follow him. The populist images of Jesus need to be stripped of myth and we need to ask ourselves if we indeed want to be associated with the Jesus who promised his disciples that the world would hate them because it hated him.