I think sometimes I (and everyone else who is trying to function in some kind of community, so everyone except hermits) have a bit of expectation - or dream at least - that somewhere along the way, we're going to get it right and suddenly all the pieces will fall into place and everything will be peachy. Well, sometimes I'm a little slow, but I just realized, that's not happening until Jesus comes back. And that is so good. That means we have to learn to depend on Jesus to be the glue that sticks our band of mutant x-men and women together. Jesus' own community couldn't hold it together without him, how could we ever do without Him.
In chapter 9 of Mark's account of Jesus life, Jesus takes a couple of the boys up the mountain and they get to see Jesus in all his glory - and Moses and Elijah as a little bonus - I can't wait to see that. When they come down the hill, Jesus find the rest of the boys falling apart at the seams. Some guy who's son is being harassed by a demon is there looking for help, and the disciples can't seem to do a thing about it.
First, as per normal human behavior, everyone is arguing. Everyone has to get their two cents in. Just picture it; the big wig scribes are pointing out all the theology and law and tradition you can shake a stick at. Probably blaming the kid for wanting to be possessed by a demon, probably shaming the father for not raising him right, probably condemning and ridiculing the disciples (who were just teenager themselves) for not knowing what to do or how to do it. Now if you know any teenagers who have ever had a little authority or power, it's gone straight to their head (sorry teenagers, but it's true, I was just like you). They're probably acting tough and being smart asses trying to show those ol' scribes they're totally out of touch with society and what's going on. Meanwhile this dad just wants some help for his kid. He's desperate. The community is deteriorating very quickly. There's going to be one of those serious public disturbances that happens after the home team loses the Stanley Cup in game 7 unless Jesus shows up and does his thing.
Jesus does what he always does. First he shows us he's human. This isn't the robot zombie Jesus that you've seen in the movies who always has a blank smile on his face. Jesus was a man, he had real emotion; he laughed, he cried, he gut frustrated, he got hurt, he showed compassion, he showed mercy. And here He's disappointed and frustrated with the people around him. So their's your permission to be disappointed and frustrated with the people around you when they let you down or don't agree with you. We're all imperfect get over it. Our community will never be perfect. But Jesus get's past it - quickly!
But that's sort of a side point. What he does next is teach us that community only works when we take care of the people around us who are in need. Jesus doesn't waste time trying to solve the debate what is happening around him because it's probably based in religion and theology and law and pride and self-righteousness. He goes to find out what is troubling this little boy and his father. He goes straight to the person in need. Jesus could have easily settled whatever argument was taking place. Any time the religious leaders challenged him and he took the time to respond to them, he totally stumped them with his understanding of scripture. But who cares. People don't often get set free when they get proved wrong, they usually get angry and jaded. What does change people is when they see and experience the love and mercy of the Kingdom of Heaven. So Jesus poured it out for everyone to see.
The father begs Jesus to help him, if he can. Then he says I believe a little but help my unbelief. Jesus immediately responds and shows him mercy. He doesn't say, go study your bible so you know the right answer. He doesn't say go get cleaned up first for all the stupid choices you made in life. Jesus doesn't give him a list of tasks to do in order to make amends for his sin. Nope. Just helps him.
Later the disciples - confused as usual - are like, "Jesus, what's up, why couldn't we do anything for this kid?" And he teaches them a very valuable lesson about how this kingdom works and how their kingdom community has to work. He says this problem can only be fixed by prayer; that is by being connected and dependent on God to do it. Maybe the disciple were trying to show everyone their stuff, maybe they were more interested in proving the old dudes wrong. Whatever the case, they weren't dependent on God and their little community went to shambles. They weren't dependent on God so the power of the kingdom was not manifested among them.
I love my kingdom community. I love that people's hearts are set on Jesus. We're seeing God do incredible things with people and we know it's all him. I know if we keep ourselves after Jesus - even when the scribes come to tell us we've got some things wrong, even with the religious leaders come to say there's a few things we have to do first or we're not legit, even when we get confused and aren't sure which way to turn - I know we'll encourage each other to turn back to him. We are a rag tag bunch of accidental and reluctant leaders at times, but we want to see the mercy and grace of the kingdom radically change people's lives. I know we'll disagree with each other about how we should do things, I know we'll probably have arguments about who should have taken responsibility for this or that, I know we'll say things wrong and things we don't mean. Still humans. But we've all experienced his incredible Grace and that is what will build our community and make it indestructible. Jesus is sticky and we'll stick together by His grace, mercy and power so everyone around us has a chance to experience his Faith Hope and Love...