Saturday, February 5, 2011

Homily 22: Your Little Foothill (as preached by an orthodox rebel)

"And they took offense at Him." Matthew 13:57a

Have you ever seriously considered Jesus' rejection by His hometown? Those who supposedly knew Him the best ("Is this not the carpenter's son?" vs. 55) did not know Him at all ("because of their unbelief," vs. 58). They had a preconceived and well entrenched conception of Jesus, and they had grown quite familiar with their conception. Thus, when the real deal came thundering into their lives, they were "astonished" (vs. 54) and offended. How dare Jesus step outside of our conception of Him! How dare He defy our notions and self-made expectations! How dare He indeed.

There is a saying that "absence makes the heart grow fonder," the inverse implication being that familiarity makes the heart grow stale. That is not true in regard to God. If our heart is growing stale, it is not because we have grown too familiar with Him. Rather, it is because we have grown too familiar with what is not Him, with some cheap imitation and concocted notion. Christ and the scriptures reveal God to be the fountainhead of infinite Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, the summation of all perfection, the source and aim of all desire, and the author of salvation. No heart can ever grow stale by going deeper and deeper into His presence. Staleness doesn't come because we know God too well, but because we have grown comfortable with what is either not Him or less than Him. In this way, we indeed fall short of the glory of God.

The real danger, however, is manifested in Jesus' hometown crowd. It is one thing to grow familiar with a false or incomplete image of God. It is quite another thing to grow fond of that image, so fond that when the real God comes bursting through your life and upsets your misconceptions you become offended by Him. How dare God not be what I want Him to be! This is the same trap that the Pharisees fell into. They stood in the tension between the God they wanted and the God who is. Blinded by their own conceptions, they rejected the God who is. When unbelievers do this, they damn their souls. When believers do this, they stunt their sanctification. They come to a certain spot in their relationship to God and say, "There can't possibly be anything higher than this," and so they take the foothills over the summit, an unfortunate state of affairs that only a God-sent avalanche can cure. Are you small enough in your own eyes to see God for the mountain that he is, or will He be forever your little foothill?

-Jon Vowell (c) 2011


  1. Bill Jenkins2/6/11, 5:27 PM

    As Kierkegaard put it, we should be comforted by the fact that before God we are always in the wrong.

  2. Master Jenkins! Good to hear from you, sir. (I hope that your comment is the harbinger of the return of Jinx Blog?)

  3. Bill Jenkins2/8/11, 6:31 AM

    I've tried to keep up with Facebook, but it really bores me. I'm sorry to see so many blogs fall by the wayside. I shut mine down on purpose, though I'm trying to keep the Center for Western Studies blog going on behalf of John Hodges.

  4. I think 'damn their souls' might be a little dramatic...otherwise, I agree wholeheartedly.