Today’s Readings: Joshua 14-15, Psalms 146-147, Jeremiah 7, Matthew 21
Recently, I was at work meeting with a group of co-workers. While discussing a particularly difficult case one of my colleagues used the phrase, “not my monkeys, not my circus!” I had never heard anyone say that before and it still has me smiling when I think about it. I’m a person that can very easily get super involved with situations in which broken people need mending. I’m a real “fixer upper”! In fact one of the areas of growth that I’m really working on in my personal relationship with God, is praying for those near me that need Him most rather than trying to fix the problems in their daily life. My co-worker’s little metaphor resonated with me in more than one way. First, it reminded me that sometimes our worldly troubles aren’t so much problems for us to solve, but rather opportunities to grow closer in our relationship to God. I know that sounds so corny…I heard it when I just wrote it. I really mean it though. I can think of several times just in the last few months when I said out loud, “Come on Lord…cut me a break here!” Only to find later that had it not been for that little trial, I may not have discovered his presence in my life around the next corner. Secondly, I’m reminded that the people close to me and the people not so close to me are not necessarily my monkeys. In other words, we are all God’s monkeys and we belong in His circus. How often to I take on the problems of others rather than encouraging them to turn to Him for guidance. This whole idea was transported to a more macro level for me when I read Psalm 146 today.
“I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.” (Psalm 146:2-4)
Not your prince. That’s right. It doesn’t matter who our next president will be. He or she will not be your prince. We cannot put our trust in mere human beings. Not human police officers, not human doctors, not human soldiers and not even human ministers. They cannot save us. There is not one human on this earth that can make plans big enough to save us. No one is strong enough except Jesus. The one thing we can count on is that our world will continue to be a literal circus until the end. We can keep looking for a better qualified, bigger, stronger ring leader but we’re never going to find one. We can transfer to another circus with a bigger tent and better popcorn but again we’ll be faced with the same trials. This lesson is echoed later in today’s readings in Matthew 21:
“The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.” (Matthew 21:42).
Jesus is quoting Psalm 118. At first, rejected by the Jewish leaders he would later by vindicated by God and become the center of his kingdom. God would then take the kingdom away from the Jewish leaders and entrust it to Jesus’ disciples. Those who put their trust in Jesus were rewarded with eternal salvation. Later in Matthew 21:43-44, Jesus alludes to Isaiah 8:
“Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.” Matthew 21:43-44
The stone is Yahweh over whom the people of Israel stumble, fall and are broken. By identifying Himself as the stone, Jesus strongly implied his diety. (HCSB Study Bible) Jesus is the center, the cornerstone of our lives. No other prince can be yours. As our world becomes more and more like a really scary circus, we have to make Him the ring leader. Not everyone will agree. So many will be looking for an earthly prince to place on the throne. But we know that our prince sits in heaven.
Lord, help us to turn our eyes to you in this time of chaos and uncertainty. Help us to see past the trappings of our human existence and instead move in this time and space with you at the center. We love you Lord.