He … called to him those whom he wanted… I was new at school and like so many other gym classes where the teacher decides who gets to be the captains to choose teams while the rest of us wait to be chosen, this wasn’t any different. Never mind the fact that I was actually pretty good at sports, nobody knew me and they weren’t willing to take the chance. So I sit and wait until close to the end. Apparently, I couldn’t be any worse than the few who were left and finally I am chosen for a team. Yet there were still others behind me waiting to be chosen and I never thought about how they must have felt. Of course on the other hand they may not have really cared. Either way, everyone would eventually be chosen. Sometimes in this life when we do care and when it really matters, it can feel like we are waiting forever to be chosen. We are blessed to serve a God that knows us and has already chosen us – one who waits for us to be ready, and choose to serve God with the gifts already given us.
…not to be served but to serve. Matthew 20:17-28 To kick off the early Black Friday event, one of the stores decided to make one of their prized discounted items available to the customers at the end of the line that had gathered outside the store instead of the beginning of the line. I’m not entirely sure what angst that may have caused but I think it probably made some, (particularly those at the front of the line) a bit salty. To some extent in this life, we are all one managerial decision away from being chosen. The mother of James and John thought to get a jump on God’s glory for her sons before the other disciples. Jesus makes clear that God’s Kingdom is not about being the early worm but rather about our willingness towards God will as we work to serve one another. We serve God by serving one another. In serving one another we are all chosen.
Herod’s story helps us to understand several things. First, that John’s message was for everyone. Second, not everyone who hears the message of repentance will be committed to it. Third, for those who hear and receive it, they will make the choice to prepare themselves so that God can enter in and live according to God’s will and not the will of the self. By doing so it doesn’t make us perfect and we won’t always make the right decision but the spirit that condemns us will lead us back to John’s message of repentance of the heart. What story would we be telling if Herod chose not to honor his daughter’s request? How many decisions have we made in our own lives simply for our own self-preservation out of pride, arrogance, selfishness and fear? How many times have we in hindsight, with knowledge of Christ, wish we had made a different decision, not for things in which we have no relationship like the color of carpet, but rather in those matters that reflect our relationship to others? However, in spite of our selves and out past, God chooses to be in relationship with us, as blameless before him according to his love, which is revealed to us through Christ. As we strive to live according to God’s love, a Herod’s dilemma becomes less prevalent in our lives as we travel this journey.