Appreciated, but not always wanted

Published 9:52 am Friday, July 13, 2018

by Charles Qualls

Golfers among us might know the legend. God stood one day between Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer, with an arm on each one’s shoulder. God said to Nicklaus, “You will go down in history as the greatest golfer ever.” Then, God turned to Arnold Palmer and said, “But you will be the one the people love.”   

Have you ever considered that it’s possible for someone like Jesus to have been greatly appreciated, but not always wanted?

Jesus went home and taught. He was welcomed like a celebrity at first, so it seems. So proud were those who gathered to listen. “He’s so grown up now,” one probably said. “Can this be Mary and Joseph’s little boy?” another wondered. “He must be successful; he has people following him around you know!” One proud neighbor observed. “Yes, I heard he’s even done a miracle or two!”

Then, He started teaching.

In Mark 6: 1-13, we see just how quickly things can turn with people. Mark’s gospel gives us the executive summary of a story that seems to be the same as one that John told in chapter 4 of his gospel. Think about this: if something made it into even two of the four gospels, then that must have been important.

Of course, I happen to think all of what’s in the gospels is important. If you want to read the long form, and trust me you do want to read the long form, check out John’s version of this story.

I can’t speak for all pastors, of course. But, I think if you got most of us honest enough for a minute they would corroborate what I’m about to say. Also, I know that we’re not Jesus. Stick with me, though.

We occupy a weird place in most people’s lives. In our community even. I have come to call it, “appreciated but not always wanted.” One in my line of work can eventually become what some in clergy circles is referred to as chaplain to the community.

We tend to get invited to lots of things:

• The local funeral home has a family there needing a burial, but they aren’t active in a local church.  Suddenly, they need a minister.

• You’re having a 5k run or a mini-marathon and want an invocation? We’d probably get the call.

• You’re trying to get some divided factions together in a community? We’d be a logical call to see what we could do.

• Heaven forbid, a tragedy happens in the community and sometimes they’ll pull in ministers to support as counselors.

• Ribbon-cuttings, pet blessings, weddings, baccalaureate addresses, someone has their program cancel at the last minute … it’s not at all unusual for folks to reach out to us because we are willing to speak publicly.

In those settings, we are appreciated for what we can do. However, if you’re going to invite over all your friends, including your old sorority sisters, we might be a downer to have around when the stories start being told. If you’re having all the neighborhood guys over, including those three who aren’t quite fit for public consumption, we might not be on the invite list.

That’s the way it is for some of us with Jesus, too, you know. We appreciate him for the whole salvation thing. But, he’s not always wanted in every moment of our lives.

Their reaction to His words at home — in Mark and in John — didn’t diminish the truth of what he had said. He spoke as a prophet, but all they could see was the boy they had helped to raise. He spoke on behalf of God, and all they could see was 30 years in the past when he was a toddler in the carpenter’s shop.

He was appreciated as one of them. But, he was not wanted for what He truly was.

Jesus walks away frustrated here for a specific reason. Their unbelief has caused these friends to invalidate the very essence of the one who has been sent to redeem them.

Sometimes, Jesus’ truths show up in my life at the most inconvenient of times. Sometimes, God’s calling may cause you to do something you never would have seen yourself doing. Or, God’s nudging may take you into a relationship or an action way ahead of your comfort.

In those moments, we get to find out if Jesus is really wanted in our lives. Or, if maybe we just appreciate him a little.

DR. CHARLES QUALLS is senior pastor at Franklin Baptist Church. Contact him at 562-5135.