How can you tell if a relationship is healthy or not? All of us wonder about that from time to time, and it’s natural to wonder.
But the truth is we are all on a journey in life and, unless we stop now and again and assess where we are, we are going to look around one day and figure out we’re lost! Just like our physical health needs regular check ups, our emotional and spiritual health needs the same. But what “doctor” should we use?
Modern life is filled with voices all claiming to be experts at living life well. From exercise gurus who have just the right “supplement” you need to lose weight or “bulk up” to the multitude of books and advice coaches just waiting to give you (sell you) the Key Insight that will turn your life around. And, the truth is, there is a lot of very good direction out there. Heck, I don’t know what I would do without my treasure trove of advisors, doctors, therapists, and just all around wise guides to help me!
Look at our lesson today in Luke 20:1-8:
At that time, as Jesus was teaching the people in the temple and preaching the gospel, the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up and said to Him, “Tell us by what authority you do these things, or who it is that gave you this authority.” He answered them, “I also will ask you a question; now tell me, was the baptism of John from heaven or from men?” And they discussed it with one another, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us; for they are convinced that John was a prophet.” So they answered that they did not know whence it was. And Jesus said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”
Our Lord is confronted today by the religious guides who were in charge of both the temporal and spiritual governing of the lives of the people in Jerusalem. They didn’t like Jesus. They feared Jesus. They suspected that Jesus was going to disrupt their lives. And they had every reason to think all this about the Lord, because He was already making their lives tough!
And he did this by exposing the wrong way they were leading the people. Of course, they confronted Him and asked “who do you think you are?” and “Who told you you could do this?” You see, most leaders who are leading wrongly down the wrong path are very protective of their “rights.” In fact, every leader who demands respect very rarely deserves it. And these leaders had spent so much of their lives negotiating with the Roman rulers how to maintain the status quo and to negotiate survival, they had forgotten the very purpose of their faith in the first place. That’s why when the Lord showed up and reminded them of the correct path for people’s lives, these leaders felt threatened!
The sad truth that the Lord had to show these men was that their path was wrong, and only His path would lead to a freedom much deeper than any mere political freedom. His Path meant a life that rediscovered it’s true purpose. His path led somewhere beyond just survival to real life. As He said in another place “I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.”
All too often we settle for a path that leads to what we think is comfortable or “satisfactory” when what we need is the much more rewarding, much more demanding, and much more challenging path that pays eternal rewards. But that path won’t take us to merely the status quo or some negotiated “settlement” with evil that allows for our mere survival. No, this path takes us beyond the merely “comfortable” or “satisfactory” to the amazing goal of becoming like Jesus Christ and sharing His life forever.
Today, which path are you on? The one that compromises with the present world and offers temporary comfort, or the one that disturbs your comfort zone but offers you the temporary labor to overcome your spiritual slavery for an eternity of rest and peace. One path goes nowhere and one path takes you everywhere! And the way to tell which is which lies in the revelation of true life found in the fullness of the Faith, in the rhythm of liturgies and prayers and practice that prepares you to enjoy God forever! That’s the Path that makes sense of being Orthodox on Purpose.