3.25.2012

Fifth Sunday in Lent - Year B

Jeremiah 31:31-34  •  Psalm 51:1-12 or Psalm 119:9-16  •   Hebrews 5:5-10  • John 12:20-33

I almost got involved in a pyramid scheme one time.

I had just graduated from college with a less than overtly marketable English and Philosophy degree. I had blindly searched for a job for a while. I began to just respond to as many ads in the paper as I could. One day a guy called back that sounded really interested to talk with me.

When I arrived at the appointment I was sat in a room with about a dozen other people and we were barraged with a sales pitch about water ionizing filters and vitamin supplements. But more than the clean water and vitamins, these folks were showing pictures of the company's owner and the wide variety of wealth he had accumulated as a result of selling these products. After a while, those of us who stayed were broken off in to a one on one conversation with current salesmen. They pitched the "business model" and how important it was for me to sell the products to everyone I knew AND for me to bring in some other people in as salesmen because for every dollar's worth of vitamins they sold, I got a cut.

Ugh.

The thing that was impressive to me about this whole thing was to see how Motivated these people were. Of course, they were motivated only by money. They talked about selling clean water and vitamins, but they were motivated by money. But there were Motivated. And they were Motivated to spread the word and bring in as many people to their belief system...er...company because the more people there were in the system, the better it was for everyone!

When we are really excited about something, we work as hard as we can to share that excitement with others. When we have something that we really believe and that we really know will make a difference, our Motivation suddenly is about multiplication rather than just simple addition.

When we look at this week's passage from Jeremiah, we see God taking a different approach with the people of Israel. Up to this point, the expectations were set up for people to follow God primarily based on rules and laws and commandments. Here we see God talking about making a new covenant with the people that is "in their hearts." So the appeal is to a deeper known relationship rather than an enforced code of laws. And this deeper connection creates a greater Motivation in the person. It is like when you went from 'reciting' the words to the Pledge of Allegiance or the Nicene Creed to really understanding the meaning of the words and commitments you are making.

We see in most of the Psalms a writer who is Motivated more by the relationship with God. He is always dealing with joy and praise and guilt and shame that comes from being in a relationship with someone. In Psalm 51 we see it again. This writer is flogging himself and throwing himself at the feet of God and asking for forgiveness and desperately wanting to be in relationship with God.

In the passage from John we see Jesus talking about how his message was being multiplied. In this passage we see the importance of others being motivated to understand and implement the message. Jesus tells them that "unless a grain of wheat falls in to the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." One person teaching a message is helpful, but spreading that message to others and then having them spread that message creates a different type of success.

The writer of Hebrews talks about the Motivation that Jesus was operating from. He talks about Jesus understanding that he was appointed by God as a priest to the people. Salvation came through him because of his "reverent submission" and "obedience". Jesus understood his purpose and brought others in to work with him and motivated them to help him go out and fulfill that purpose.

When we are really excited about something, we work as hard as we can to share that excitement with others. When we have something that we really believe and that we really know will make a difference, our Motivation suddenly is about multiplication rather than just simple addition.


God, help me avoid my cynicism.
Help me drop my guard.
Help me not worry about
what others think.
Help me to reach out and
share the messages
I know to be true.
Your words of
Hope
Peace
and Love.
Help me as I attempt to be
who you created me
to be.
Amen.



© matt norvell 2012 www.settingourstones.org we want to share
this with you and hope you'll share with the world; we simply ask that
you let people know where you found these words. May Grace & Peace be
with you.

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