Today's Reading - Luke 22:1-65
This passage includes stories we read about in Matthew and Mark. Judas agrees to betray Jesus in return for money, Jesus has His final meal with His disciples, Jesus goes to the Mount of Olives to pray, Jesus is arrested, Jesus is disowned by Peter, and Jesus is mocked by the men guarding Him. The part on which I will focus was inspired by a note in my Bible entitled, “Status-Conscious Disciples.”
During the Last Supper, the disciples are arguing about who was the greatest (v. 24). The majority of the disciples come from humble backgrounds, as they were farmers or fishermen before being called by Jesus to do His work. Jesus warns the disciples in Luke 10:20 to keep their egos in check after they proudly tell Him, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name” (v. 17). As the quote in Luke 22:24 shows, they never learn this lesson during Jesus’s lifetime.
A little over three years ago, my ego probably could have given the disciples’ egos a run for their money. I was in my second year of my job, my primary boss was on sabbatical, and my boss’s boss was new. Needless to say, the fact that I knew more than someone above me in both title and education level made me feel important. In addition, this person would regularly ask me questions about how to do something. Once my primary boss returned and my boss’s boss learned the ropes, my arrogance disappeared, leaving me with the awareness of what an unchecked ego feels like. I realized I acted like a know-it-all who was all too happy to have this power and who did not think about how her arrogance affected others. To this day, those others will not come out and tell me I was an arrogant individual during that time, but they will not disagree with me when I talk about how arrogant I was.
So how do I resemble the disciples in terms of the reason for my arrogance? In some ways, I too come from humble beginnings. Yes, I attended private institutions for all of my K-12 and most of my undergraduate education, an opportunity not available to all. However, by some definitions I am considered a first-generation student since, while my parents took course post-high school, neither of them have a bachelor’s degree (nor even completed more than a year of college-level classes). Therefore, I was on my own navigating the complexities of college. I was the first in my family of influence to live at college and the first to consider, let alone pursue, advanced education. On top of all this, I transferred a lot in undergrad by choice and graduated from a one-year Master’s program so I never established roots at a school before I came to Old Dominion University.
In all honesty, succumbing to the fact that I felt like I finally belonged somewhere was kind of scary. Even though I lived in the same town my whole life before I started living in other places for college, I never felt at home there. I think one of the reasons why I went to so many schools is I wanted to find a geographic location I wished to live in long-term. What is another place where I did not feel 100 percent at home? Within my own family. For reasons that include my not feeling at home where I grew up and my pursuit of advanced education, I was different from everyone else. Even worse, they did not understand the reasons for these differences. This made discussing certain topics difficult because I always felt misunderstood and on the defensive. At ODU, I not only found people who understood me and with whom I had things in common, I also found a city I could call home. Once I stepped outside my ODU bubble, these feelings did not subside; in fact, they have grown stronger as I continue to meet people with similar interests and who respectfully expand my comfort zone.
Maybe the same is true for the disciples. Not only did they, like me, let power get to their heads, but perhaps they also felt more at home in the locations they traveled with Jesus, places they may have never visited otherwise, than where they grew up. And maybe they felt more comfortable around Jesus and each other than their families. As I learned firsthand, power and a sense of belonging is great, but not when you let it get to your head and your arrogance has a negative effect on those around you.
When has your over-confidence had a negative effect on a situation or person?
What does it feel like to belong somewhere?
How can we help others feel at home in a group in which we are both members?
Ok, put your Bible down and live this week like it was the last!
by Jennifer Giblin