There is this incredible story in Mark’s Gospel. Jesus is often seen as the center of this story, but I think the true center of the story is a Scribe. I imagine him to be a young man. He walks into a room while Jesus is arguing with the young man’s fellow religious leaders. He is somewhat intrigued and impressed by Jesus’ answers and is inspired to ask a question of his own.
“What commandment is the foremost of all?”
If you come from a Christian background, you probably know this passage well. Jesus answers the question with the famous words illuminating the holistic love of God and neighbor as the foremost commandment. This is where I imagine the room becomes a tad unsettled by the young Scribe’s response. He seems to get a rush of passion and excitement as he essentially yells back at Jesus an emphatic Amen!! I imagine all the other Scribes and Pharisees looking at this guy with a scolding glare. At least for a moment, he had forgotten what team he was supposed to be playing for.
Jesus’ response to the Scribe after he excitedly affirmed the answer to his question was deeply profound and maybe even a tad uncomfortable for him to receive in front of all the other big shots. “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”
Joshua Station is a disorienting community for some folks. You walk in with all sorts of team associations in your life. Maybe you are conservative or liberal. Maybe you are Presbyterian or Methodist. Maybe you are Black or White. Maybe you are Christian or Muslim. No matter what teams you are fighting for, Joshua Station has a habit of making them irrelevant. Regardless of how you associate, you are invited to love within a community entirely disinterested in your team identification. The only thing that matters is how you love.
For at least a moment, most people who enter this space forget what team they are on and simply respond to the presence of God being displayed in their midst. In that moment, I believe Jesus would affirm each of us—“You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”
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