Saturday, October 3, 2015

Answer to Prayer to Discern Jesus' Response to Evaluativism

I asked you to pray for discernment in interpreting Jesus's example for responding to evaluativism, especially as churches studied Mark 9:38-50 from the lectionary for September 27, 2015. I can't tell you how your prayers impacted all the other churches that day, but the interpretation I delivered in my church can be found here.

Each member of the congregation was given a small bag with salt similar to the salt familiar to Jesus' disciples. That is, the salt was not refined, so it would absorb moisture and lose it saltness if not stored in an airtight container.

I made several points:

  1. Modern science shows us that Jesus' disciples, like modern humans, would have had different physiologies which would cause them to have opposing perceptions of the in-group/out-group issue. How Jesus handled the conflict his disciples brought him in Mark 9:38 provides an example we can follow in addressing evaluativism today.
  2. By speaking poetically, Jesus allowed people of both kinds to feel affirmed. I personally do not communicate that way, but, by God's grace, I have friends who can speak differently. We must take care not to take sides against a kind of person. We all deserve affirmation.  
  3. Jesus' message is different for societies at different stages of development. Modern science has revealed that certain popular interpretations of this passage are wrong, but Christians with less advanced science would not be able to interpret the passage in the same way. Likewise, we might speak about evaluativism differently to people at different stages of development. 
  4. Jesus' final conclusion is a compromise: On the one hand, His disciples would recognize salt as a metaphor for something that needs to be segregated most of the time. Some kinds of people similarly need to spend most of their time with people who share their own values. On the other hand, as in our interdependent meal, salt shows its value in those rare times when it is mixed with other ingredients, and not all other ingredients need to be stored as salt does. Scientifically advanced people can build a society in which the kinds of people who benefit from segregation are segregated most of the time, and other types of people are not.  

Mark 9:38-50 is probably not the only passage in which Jesus responded to evaluativism. Please continue to pray for discernment, that we may recognize other examples and interpret them in a godly way (perhaps the conflicts Jesus navigated in Mark 2:16, Mark 2:18, Mark 2:24, Mark 3:21-22, Mark 7:5, Mark 9:16-18, Mark 9:33-34, Mark 10:2, Mark 10:13, Mark 11:28, Mark 12:15, Mark 12:18-23, Mark 12:28, and Mark 14:4-5 ?).

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