Having been out of state for a week, I am now distracted once more by the necessity of “catching up” so that I might again leave today on a brief vacation. None of this vacation thing makes any sense to me as a means of relaxation!
However, even in the madness of trying to get away, my morning devotionals kept speaking the message of transformation so critical to the church of our day. This morning I had scarcely moved through the first verses of Mark 15 before I began to sense what I believe must have been the saddest day of all times for religious institutions or as Mark puts it:
“Very early in the morning, the chief priests, with the elders, the teachers of the law and the whole Sanhedrin, reached a decision. They bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate.” (NIV)
Here we see included in the ranks of Mark’s record, every level of religious professional and scriptural devotee among Judaism in that day. Surely someone should have heard from God? What was blocking their revelation? I sensed a possibility as I read into verse 10:
“it was out of envy (competition) that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him.”
The thought occurred that the church in America could again be falling victim to this ancient foe of envy. Herein listed was the leadership that had given their lives to pouring over scripture; not all bad men, as “Joseph of Arimathea, a prominent member of the Council, who was himself awaiting the kingdom of God” (vs.43) actually took down, wrapped and buried the body of Jesus. Yet these men obviously fail victim to jealousy and competition, turning their backs on the very Son of the God they had so diligently studied and attempted to follow.
Today we talk too little about competition, at times even gathering as pastors to pray together, sharing pulpits, hosting common events, while still yet the demon of competition lurks just below the surface of our thoughts, as we struggle to maintain our spiritual “market share” of the church.
We count the noses in our sanctuaries and the net gains in our annual budgets, while the harvest within our cities, which we could more likely reach through true collaboration, mostly falls to the ground each year.