Well, hey, I figured the title would get some attention. I’ve been thinking on and off about one of today’s verses – and how it relates to our recent turnover of power in DC.
…. coming to his hometown [Jesus] taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all these things?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household.” And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief. Matthew 13: 54-58
I’ve had that experience. Maybe you have, too.
There really is something to Jesus’ claim that familiarity breeds contempt.
The people from Jesus’ hometown just couldn’t get their head around the idea that this guy they grew up with could be so wise and heal people. Isn’t a prophet supposed to seem great? Act great?
Jesus was just too normal, too humble, to be a prophet, a man of God. They couldn’t reconcile their idea of how a man of God should behave – that Jesus should be different, apart, better, BIG. So they took offense.
We want our heros to be perfect and bigger than life. Jesus WAS perfect, but he just didn’t seem bigger than life.
It was too much work to THINK, to try to reconcile what they heard Jesus say, what they saw him do (miracles), and the fact that he was from a normal family and acted like a normal person.
It is a A LOT easier to make a hero of someone who is far away, someone whose life does not require us to think, to try to balance the familiar with the famous, the good with the bad.
That’s why we so easily make heros – or demons – so easily of those from another place. Because we aren’t forced to make peace with our cognitive dissonance. We don’t have to see the flaws or the normal-ness of people who are far away. It’s easy to make them what we want them to be.
So it is with Obama and Trump.
I am so tired of reading (on Facebook in particular) caricatures of both. Depending on who you talk to, Obama is either EXCEEDINGLY GOOD or HORRIFICALLY BAD. Depending on who you talk to, Trump is either HORRIFICALLY BAD or EXCEEDINGLY GOOD.
Neither is either.
They are both flawed humans who have good and bad beliefs, characters, and actions. But because they are far away, because we don’t KNOW them personally, we can stop using our brains and stick labels on them.
It’s the same with people who supported either Trump or Obama. So many people have been unfairly labeled by both sides. By people who just don’t know them personally.
Every time I see a friend on FB categorically demonize anyone who voted for Trump, I can think of another perfectly normal friend who just got demonized. And vice versa.
But even when we know someone personally, we can refuse to think.
Jesus’ hometown folks refused to try and figure him out. How he could be so normal and humble and so great at the same time. He refused to fit their stereotype. So they cast him out (in Luke’s version, chapter 4).
I suspect the people who think Obama is the devil would be forced to adjust their thinking if they met him personally. Same about Trump.
There are very few people who are what we think they are when we get up close and personal.
Of course, we can continue to judge others like to Jesus’ hometown peeps did or we incorporate all the information we can only really gather upfront and personal and make a balanced, nuanced judgment.
Dear Lord – Help me to practice what I’m preaching here. Amen