July 14 2017
When I was a kid, I loved to watch Transformers. You might know their tagline: “More than meets the eye.” It’s funny how that same line applies in other areas of life as well. This week I found one such area. Here’s what I learned.
You’ve probably heard me talk about our house before, but to recap, we live in a house in Maple Ridge that Steph’s grandparents built back in 1956. It’s built like a rock. But it was built for an era that isn’t like ours, so we’ve had to learn its idiosyncrasies (like the fact that there are no electrical outlets in the bathrooms and there never seem to be enough electrical outlets anywhere else, either).
On top of that, there’s the fact that while it’s very well built, it’s old, and nothing lasts forever, so we’ve slowly been modernizing it.
Sounds straightforward, right? But as anyone who’s ever done a renovation knows, it’s never straightforward.
Now, I’m not an expert handyman by any stretch, but I’ve learned how to do a number of household maintenance tasks over the years. Whenever I go into a project, I draw on the experiences I’ve collected and have a decent idea in my mind about the steps involved in the process.
And then I open up a wall, or take off a backsplash tile, or remove a toilet, and I realize that nothing is what it seems.
For example, this week I needed to take off an old toilet and remove our kitchen sink and faucet. Both of those are plumbing-related, and they both start with the very first step you always take: turn off the shutoff valve.
That’s when I realized that shutoff valves don’t have a 60-year lifespan.
No problem, though, right? If the shutoff valves don’t quite shut off, you can always shut off the main supply line. Sure, it’s extreme, but what choice do you have?
That’s when I realized, yet again, that shutoff valves don’t have a 60-year lifespan.
Thanks to Steph’s quick thinking, we managed to come up with a solution to the problem, and the goal (new toilet in the bathroom, new faucet in the kitchen) was eventually accomplished.
But here’s what we realized: we’d been living all this time in a house with no way to shut off the water, and we had no idea.
In other words, there was more to the situation than met the eye.
Optimus Prime would be proud.
(And before you ask, yes, I know that you can shut off the water at the city supply line, which is what we got a plumber to do so that we could get new shutoff valves.)
That’s not a big deal when things are working well. But if there had been some kind of incident that required us to shut off the water, we would have been up the creek (with a fairly literal interpretation of that metaphor).
Here’s the point: we made an assumption that was reasonable based on what we saw, but it turns out that we didn’t have all the data we needed. And when we realized that our data set was incomplete, we needed to adjust our assumptions and bring them in line with reality because not doing so would be very unwise.
As I study the gospel of Luke, it strikes me that the same thing was happening to the first-century Jewish people in the midst of Jesus’ ministry. They knew about the promises that God had made to send a Messiah to deliver them and to rule over them as king. And they had developed a set of expectations for that Messiah. They figured that they knew what he was going to do and how he was going to act.
But when Jesus came onto the scene, they were confused. Here was a guy who seemed to be the Messiah, but he wasn’t doing what they thought he was going to do.
They realized, like I did with my shutoff valves, that the assumptions they had made—the ones that had seemed so reasonable at the time—were based on an incomplete data set. There was more to Jesus’ ministry than met the eye. And the wise move would be to adjust their assumptions to bring them in line with reality.
Some of them did. But some didn’t, specifically the religious leaders (the Pharisees, the scribes, and the teachers of the law). They refused to accept that God was doing something different than they had assumed he would do, and they worked to oppose Jesus at every opportunity.
Eventually, their opposition would come to a head through a clever scheme to have Jesus executed. They thought they had won. But they hadn’t. Their refusal to adjust their assumptions ended badly for them. And the thing is they didn’t even know it.
Jesus is still going about his business of challenging our assumptions. Every disciple eventually comes to that moment of realizing that there’s more to following Jesus than meets the eye. And our commitment to discipleship is proven in those moments.
This week at Parkland, we’re going to look at a story about this exact thing in Luke 7:18-35. I hope you’ll be able to join us.