Luke 2:33-35 (CEV)
33Jesus’ parents were surprised at what Simeon had said. 34Then he blessed them and told Mary, “This child of yours will cause many people in Israel to fall and others to stand. The child will be like a warning sign. Many people will reject him, 35and you, Mary, will suffer as though you had been stabbed by a dagger. But all this will show what people are really thinking.”
What People Are Really Thinking
We are told by Simeon that the point of all the suffering and rejection that is going to happen is to show what people are really thinking. But why does that matter? I think the answer is found over in the gospel of John, where Jesus says “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)
As humans we wander around with stories we tell about ourselves and about those around us. For years I told myself this story that the rules were different for me than they were for everybody else. I used that story to excuse myself from the grace and compassion I regularly offered to other people. I used that story to distance myself from God’s love for me. I used that story to perpetuate broken patterns of living as a workaholic and control freak. And I used that story to run away from the healing that God wanted to offer to the deep places of wounding I had experienced in my life.
But apparently part of the point of Jesus is that we’re going to know what people are really thinking. And I think most importantly, we’re going to start to see honestly what we ourselves are thinking. Because here’s the thing: when God reveals that we’re living into a broken story, the point isn’t so that we can feel really guilty or ashamed about it. The point of this reveal is so that God can replace the broken story with His story of Shalom and wholeness.
It turns out the rules aren’t any different for me than for anyone else. I’m just as human as the next person. Which means that grace and compassion that I was offering to everyone else? I need it just as much. That love of God I keep telling other people about? It’s for me, too. Which means that that broken, workaholic, control freak pattern of reactive living doesn’t actually have to define me and shape me and limit me and continually break me and those around me. Instead, there are healthy rhythms that God offers me of rest and exercise, community and quiet, time in nature and time to nurture. And as I experience these new patterns of living the anxiety, the brokenness, begins to be replaced with peace – Shalom – and wholeness.Journal Questions:
- What do you think about the idea that Jesus’ presence will reveal what people are really thinking? Is that comforting to you, or terrifying?
- What stories do you regularly tell yourself? (If you can’t think of any stories, would you be willing to ask God to begin to show you a story that He would like to set you free from?)
- How do those stories impact the choices you make, or the way you live your life?
- Would you like freedom from these stories and their ramifications?
- What would it take for you to ask God to reveal the truth about these stories to you?