God made the Sabbath for us. God did not make us for the Sabbath. (Mark 2:27, my paraphrase)
I’ve read the words I don’t know how many times and thought, “That’s cool. Way to go Jesus. Showing those Pharisees what’s what.” But for some reason I had to read it a thousand times before I thought about what that really meant about our place in Creation
See, this is why I love scripture. It haunts you. Like a song your mother taught you that only comes back when you start singing lullabies to your own children. And that song’s absence from your life in the intervening years only magnifies the realization: wow, she really loves me, and wow, life is beautiful. This is what scripture can do if we tuck it into the seat cushions of our hearts and wait to find it again right when we need it. Wow, God loves us. Wow, life is beautiful.
So that’s where I started today in Mark 2, with Jesus’s words:
“The Sabbath was made for humans, not humans for the sabbath,”
but this is where it took me:
God made the church for us. God did not make us for the church.
God made the law for us. God did not make us for the law.
God made morals and virtues for us. As a tool to help us in the struggle of life. God did not make us just so that we would become moral and virtuous.
God made fear for us. For our survival. God did not make us to be afraid.
God made sex for us. God made it so beautiful and enjoyable for us. God did not make us simply to be objects of sex.
God made ambition and desire for us. To drive us to be better. God did not make us just to be slaves to our desires.
God made storm clouds and mountains. God made pinky toe nails. God made music and the uncontrollable urge to dance. God made taste – in fine wine, in theater, in a succulent steak. God made an entire Earth and solar system that has conspired to protect us in this nursery of life. God made our children’s ridiculous laughs and crocodile tears. God made charlie horses and gut-wrenching grief. God made strawberries so full of flavor that they’re about to burst.
God made it all for us, for us humans and for our animal cousins. God made it so that we can find how deep and beautiful and precious and valuable we really are.
God made it so that we would always be drawn away from the easy answers about ourselves –
- that we are just flesh and bone,
- that we are failures, that we don’t measure up,
- that we need success or wealth or beauty to matter,
- or that we don’t really matter in the big scheme of things.
God made all this impossible universe so that we would know that those answers are not good enough. God made it all to make us look deeper into ourselves to see what depths are truly there, and in so doing, so that we would also find God. And find a god who is not an absentee landlord or a vicious dictator or a temperamental, moody deity on Mount Olympus. God made it all so that we would discover a god that exudes love in every itch and every inch. So that we would discover that our God has decided to need us.
God did not make us to fulfill creation. God made creation to fulfill us.
We have been God’s mission all along. We are not a means to another end. We are God’s end.
Someone might rightfully and rationally criticize God as being weak for making such a decision, but such is love, open to criticism and open to vulnerability but ultimately a force that cannot be denied.
O God, help me to hold on to this moment where I can see what you’re up to with us. Help me to hold onto this one moment where I get it and I somehow overcome my instinct to think that’s crazy and that you cannot possibly love me that much. Remind me when I start doubting myself again in 5 minutes that for this one moment I got a picture of how precious we all are to you. Remind me how my gratitude ran so deep that it tapped into the well of tears. Thank you thank you thank you O God. Amen.