From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you." But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things." -- Matt. 16:21-23
Over the past few days, I have been surrounded with messages about living authentically, living the life we are meant to live, as God wants us to live, as opposed to how society says we should live. In a book, in a song, in a movie, on advertising, and in yesterday's gospel reading, I saw the same message just worded differently. God must be trying to tell me something.
Anthony de Mello wrote in "Awakening," that too many of us would rather be unhappily living an illusion than living in reality. We are taught to value the transitory things of the world: house, car, money, career, etc. And, we are taught to place great stock in what other people think of us. By these means, our lives are controlled. We are slaves to our culture, and don't even know it. Jesus broke through these chains. Everything he did ran counter to the prevailing culture.
In the gospel reading, Jesus is trying to prepare his disciples for the future. He knows that what the disciples think is God's plan and what God's plan actually is, are two different things. So, he begins to prepare them. Peter, who loves Jesus and certainly doesn't want Jesus to endanger his life, tries to stop him. This is not what the Messiah is about. Peter had been taught that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem as a conquering hero. God's plan, however, was very different. Jesus knew this.
After church, I went to see the movie, "The Help." Set in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1960, the story is about women breaking free of the chains that bind them. The culture of this town and time was that black women took care of wealthy white families, while all too often being treated as less than human by those same families. The black women recognized the injustice of their lives but were too afraid to protest. They feared ostracism, abuse, and, the real possibility of being killed. So they lived in silence. Finally, one courageous black woman is led by God to tell her story, to tell the truth of her life. Others follow her lead. Some of the white women also learn to tell their truth. And as they do this, they are freed from the chains of society that imprisoned them. For all of them, however, it took a tremendous amount of courage. They had to be willing to let their old, known, albeit unhappy, lives die first.
Driving home from the movie, I heard one of my favorite songs on the radio: "Drive," by Incubus. I haven't heard it in a long time. The sound is great, but the lyrics are what I love (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=slRNXrn_5vE). The song is about how we let fear take over our lives and drive. "It seems to be the way everyone else gets around, but when I drive myself, my life is found." The song was on the radio again today.
I could go on. There were more, similar, messages. But you get the point.
I think God is trying to tell me that I let the opinions of others dictate too much what I do and don't do with my life, what I say and don't say. I know I do this. I've known it for a while. But, I am learning. I have been learning to tell my story for awhile now with God's love and support. But still, there are times when I am fearful of telling my truth.
I will listen, Dear Lord. Thank you for the bombardment of messages. I'm not sure I would have heard you so clearly without them all. I get it. Though I may lose my life, I must always live as you have made me to live. Love always, Pam