(*As you notice, I dropped the "Why I Believe..." title. It became restrictive to new writing ideas, so I dropped it. So there's that.)
It is enough.
Most of us live in a world where we are encouraged to exceed. Think about your goals for 2015, made with ache and optimism over a month ago, and ask yourself this question:
How many of those goals were to establish something new?
How many were to exceed what already exists?
It may be an even split, but if I have any gift at predicting human nature I say they were goals built on "exceeding."
There is nothing wrong with exceeding in life, except when exceeding isn't an activity but a culture.
A culture of exceeding loses track of simplicity faster than a toddler loses a sock.
A culture of exceeding gives up all of its resources - time, energy, conversation, community, intimacy, and above all grace - in the pursuit of a pearl of great price (but of little worth.)
A culture of exceeding lends us to camouflage who we really are with tapestries of pretense and presumption in order that we might avoid reality - the reality that we cannot always be in the process of exceeding. That (gasp, shock) we fail. We recede, rather than exceed, but live to fight again.
We aren't built for exceeding.
It may not be healthy.
It may in fact be dangerous.
Jesus' message of the Kingdom included raising the dead, healing the blind and broken, and caring for the poor. Who would war against that?
Plenty of folks, apparently. Enough that Jesus said something about it.
You see, the culture of Jesus' time wasn't all that different from our culture of exceeding. The exceeding done in Jesus time was largely moral or religious. The dead, the blind & broken, the poor - they were all people who couldn't exceed on their own. They were cursed. They obviously had at some point rebelled against God and were getting what they deserved. They were wrenches in the wheels of spiritual and theological progress.
So Jesus sent these disciples, armed with goodness and grace, and warned them:
Your message - the one I'm giving you - of renewing those who cannot exceed, of freeing broken and marginalized people from the prisons created by the very ones sent to save them, of remaining and dwelling with the God of the poor and the oppressed, will lead you into conflict.
Then, as a crescendo:
“The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!" (Matthew 10:24-25, NIV)
It is enough. Being my disciple is all you need. Being like me, that's all.
They'll hate you, personally attack you for not doing better than that. They'll say you could do better than meals with the poor, than living in debt to generosity. They'll call you evil, Beelzebub, devil, and even more insulting things like different, subversive, or countercultural.
They'll destroy you for not supporting the culture of exceeding, for choosing the simple path of this controversial Rabbi and moving towards those who lack the ability to stand free and clear in the system and boundaries of faith.
It is enough. Stop trying to exceed. It is enough to sit in the gritty classroom of wisdom with the gifted and compassionate Teacher, Savior, and Friend. It is enough to make your goal simply being with Jesus more and more on a regular basis. The rest, it will come.
We may say "There has to be more than that." The natural response from Jesus would be, "Why? What is missing that you would ever need?"
It is enough. It is enough. Is it enough?