- Rev. John Ames, a character in Gilead, by
They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.
- Mark 1.21-28
Andy Warhol is widely credited with coining the expression fifteen minutes of fame so prevalent in our popular culture. That is seemingly what we all want; fame, and the fortune we envision going with it like white on rice! In the passage cited above, Jesus began his fifteen minutes of fame, and the disciples were amazed. It would take much longer, however, for their amazement to resemble anything like faith. It would take time, trials, and traveling with Jesus on the way.
There is a significant difference between amazement at the charisma and wonder of Jesus, and the willingness to trust ourselves into the care of this… Man? God? Prophet? Healer? Just who is this Jesus? This is the question for faith. And its response must be reflected in a slow but steady growth in understanding as we travel with Jesus on the way.
Between fame and faith lies the willingness to give up the sensationalist, naïve, and widely popular views of Jesus, and to probe, prod, and ponder our way into the mystery of God with us. This way to faith might not make us famous, but it will make us slow to judgment, quick to compassion, and less dependent on always being right about Jesus. For my money that’s not a bad trade-off!