As we look at the different responses to the gift of Jesus Christ, people do different things for different reasons. Consumer Reports found that 39% of people when they receive a lousy gift don’t even bother taking it back but instead put it:
Out of Sight, Out of Mind—Let’s jump to the Gospel of John. John always takes a more theological look at the gift of Jesus. In the opening verses of the book he starts describing how God became human: (John 1:2-5,9-10) 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it. 9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.
One of the groups that failed to recognize Jesus, that wanted him out of sight and out of mind were the Romans. The famous interchange between Jesus and the Roman military leader Pontius Pilate helps illustrate. Fast forward to the end of Jesus life when he stands before Pontius Pilate, the concern for Pilate isn’t truth, he famously asked, “What is truth?” It wasn’t revelation or prophecy, he ignored his wife’s plea to not condemn the innocent man after she had a dream. His concern was more gut-level, more practical, and more political. He simply wanted to keep the peace. The solider stationed in Palestine deal with violence, found rebellion common and dirty with mass crucifixions trying to regain the peace and to keep control. Roman hated an outburst. Jesus rocked Richter scale and they wanted control. That can so easily become are default setting, can’t it? We toss and turn in bed stressed about how we are going to pay a bill, we try to put enough money in the bank until we feel secure, we get frustrated when we cannot control how someone we love acts or behaves, we control our schedules..Where people will stand in line for four hours for the next iPhone but church better not go over an hour. The problem is that the more we try to control what is outside of our responsibility the more we confine God. Cartoonist Bill Watterson from Calvin and Hobbes made me laugh as a fan of peanut butter and cartoons: “If you can’t control your peanut butter, you can’t expect to control your life.” When we are in control most of the time we don’t do a good job. The Romans sure weren’t. They would kill one messianic figure and his following would fade away and another would rise up and it would fade away, until they came to Christ—and it refused to fade away even in death, because there was the claim of resurrection. They suddenly weren’t in control.
Clayton Kershaw the Cy Young winning pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers shared how he found something more than just being in control: (1:35-End) Check out his I AM SECOND interview. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghbV4TfW1N0. Henry Blackaby reminds us how seeking control at all cost and prevent us from being used by God: I think God is crying out and shouting to us ‘Don’t just do something. Stand there! Enter into relationship with me. Get to know me. Adjust your life to me. Let me love you and reveal myself to you. As I work through you.