Ragamuffin Gospel: #3 – The Ragamuffin Gospel

Chapter 3

This chapter explores the love Jesus showed to the least in society as demonstrated by his actions. Much of the chapter focuses on the lowly position of children and the assertion that we must be like children when we approach Christ. Jesus taught this by His daily actions where he never held back from embracing those that were considered outcasts by the Jewish elite. The lowly status of children and the importance of dining with someone was very interesting to consider. We’ve talked a lot about children, but the cultural significance of having someone over for dinner provides a key insight into the Pharisees hatred of Jesus.

It’s funny how most church activities revolve around food (at least they did when I grew up), breaking bread together involves being vulnerable. In Jesus’ time on earth, sharing a meal with someone was more than just having some food, it was sharing life together. It was a process to have a meal. I remember being invited to dinner in England (our neighbors) for the first time. What I learned quickly was this had little to do with the food, though it was fine, it had much more to do with getting to know one another. I don’t remember when the dinner started, but I do remember that it wasn’t officially over until 11pm!  This makes me want to have people over more often, to spend time sharing a meal, cleaning the dishes, just hanging out, with people who are in our local church as well as those who are not part of any church. It seems my life has become too compartmentalized, too structured and scheduled. I pray that God opens these doors as I begin to get more involved in our community.

The last part of this chapter was really significant in my mind. The Alcoholics Anonymous buzzword: H.A.L.T. is significant. Too many times poor decisions are made when we are hungry, angry, lonely or tired.

  • Hungry: Most of the time we can fix the hungry problem by going to the fridge or pantry…most of us don’t have to worry about where the next meal is coming from.
  • Angry: The problem of anger is generally the result of not getting what we want or feel entitled to receive. It doesn’t really matter why we’re angry, what matters is how we deal with that. We need someone to confide in, someone who will listen without judging — and yes, we need to be that kind of person as well.
  • Lonely: I think we’re lonely a lot more than we realize. The “I can do it myself” mentality often leads to loneliness because we think we need to do it by ourselves. We think that asking others for help is a sign of weakness, something that reveals our inability. We really were meant to be a community of believers doing life together. The more we share the ups and downs of life together the more we avoid being lonely.
  • Tired: Oh my are we ever a tired people! Go, go, go! Where’s my list of things todo…rush, rush, rush! I’m tired just typing that! We will be tired because of the expectations and responsibilities. As parents this never ends. As employers, employees, pastors or parishioners, life makes us tired. What we do when we’re tired makes all the difference in the world. There’s no surprise that the 4th commandment is there for a reason. God knows we’re going to be tired. Plan on it and take a Sabbath weekly.

All kinds of problems happen when H.A.L.T. is violated. Lord I pray that we become a community that recognizes our weaknesses and learns to live together. Help us to turn to you in these times, for sure, but to learn to turn to each other, to be the cord of three strands that cannot be easily broken.

Jesus spent a disproportionate amount of time with Ragamuffins

  1. The least, the last, the lost and the lonely
  2. He related to the upper class as well, but not to gain clout or position

The kingdom belongs to
people who aren’t trying to look good
or impress anybody,
even themselves.

The Kingdom belongs to those who come like children

  • Odd story about a Zen monk, a tiger, some mice and a strawberry. The point is to focus on the here and now, but it’s a bit odd.
  • The past is crucified with Christ, victories and disgraces, all now have a new focus
  • Children in ancient Jewish society “had no status at all–they did not count.”
  • “Jesus gave these scorned little ones a privileged place in the kingdom”
  • The napioi were Jesus’ image for the uneducated and ignorant

Jesus deals the death blow to any distinction between the elite and the ordinary in the Christian community.

  • There is nothing we can do to earn any position in the Kingdom, it is all by the grace of Christ.

Sharing a Meal

  • “In the Near East, to share a meal with someone is a guarantee of peace, trust, fraternity and forgiveness–the shared table symbolizes a shared life.”
  • When Jesus met Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10), He was judged by the Pharisees immediately–he broke their law.
  • By dining with these “sinners” Jesus took away their shame, humiliation and guilt–He restored their dignity.

Jesus feasted while John fasted Mark 2:18-19

  • Jesus demonstrated what it meant to live with joy
  • He laughed, cried, smiled — he lived on earth like a real human

H.A.L.T.

  • Hungry, angry, lonely or tired. An AA buzzword: “Don’t let yourself get H.A.L.T.”

 

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Notes:

1 napioi, nēpioi.  Used 15 times in the New Testament in various forms. From Mounce: “an infant, babe, child, Matthew 21:16, 1 Corinthians 13:11; one below the age of manhood, a minor, Galatians 4:1; met. a babe in knowledge, unlearned, simple, Matthew 11:25; Romans 2:20.”

2 eudokia. From Mounce: good will, favor, Luke 2:14; good pleasure, purpose, intention, Matthew 11:26; Luke 10:21; Ephesians 1:5, 9; Philippians 2:13; by impl. desire, Romans 10:1; Philippians 1:15; 2 Thessalonians 1:11.

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