Friday, November 05, 2010

Community is Messy, Part 3: Spit

Team D-- the NCC Discipleship Team-- is writing a series of blogs about things that no one ever told us about small group leadership. Today, I talk about the idea that community is messy. It requires our blood, sweat, and spit. Today, I'll focus on the spit part.

Community is messy because people are messy. Jesus was willing to get down into the mess of life. He touched lepers, he befriended despised people, he hung out with notorious sinners. A few years ago, it struck me that many of Jesus’ miracles of healing were not primarily about the physical change, but the social change. Jesus was really restoring people to community. When he healed the lepers, he sent them back to the priest…Why?...because the priest was the only person with the authority to pronounce them clean and restore them to society. He healed the outcasts so they could have relationship again.

One of my favorite stories about Jesus entering into the mess is found in John 9- Jesus and the disciples encounter a man who was born blind, and the disciples ask why he was born blind- because of his sins or the sins of his family. Fingers are pointed. Assumptions are made. People avoid the mess by spiritualizing the situation. Jesus responds that the reason is neither; rather, the man was born blind in order to display the glory of God.
John 9:6-7
Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and smoothed the mud over the blind man's eyes. He told him, "Go and wash in the pool of Siloam" (Siloam means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came back seeing!
This story is full of amazing theological depth and richness. About why Jesus chose to heal in his way. About the way that God displays his glory. About the 1st century Jewish understanding of sin and its physical repercussions. About the connection between healing and praise.

But I'm not that deep. Here is what amazes me and grips me about this story: How many times did Jesus have to spit in that dry, dusty, 1st century Palestinian dirt to make that mud?

Jesus Christ, the son of God, is bent over the ground spitting and spitting into the dry, dusty ground of 1st century Palestine to make enough mud to cover this man’s eyes.

It’s a picture of a person who is willing to enter into the mess for the sake of community. The glory of God on display when the Son of God spits in the ground to restore sight. To restore a man to community.

We’ve got to bleed community. We’ve got to be willing to sweat for it. And we’ve got to be willing to get messy. The Community of God is built by our blood, sweat, and spit.


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