Outside the city

Reflections on two conversations; one started at the beginning in Marks gospel(hat tip to Steve new principle of BBC) and one started at the end with the crucifixion (hat tip to Debbie a co worker at CYM).
Marks gospel starts in a different place to the other gospels, in the wilderness. Mark 1 4 And so John came, baptizing in the desert region . This wilderness is a spacious and wild place, that no-one owned, things didn’t grow, a place beyond and outside the city. It was this place that God came down. Mark 1 v10 As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Then Jesus was then sent further out into the desert. Mark 1 v 12 At once the Spirit sent him out into the desert

With Debbie we were talking about change and mission, linking to questions about the nature church and what facilitates change; is it about understanding or practice. Do people change in response to seeing something different or through the understanding that can be gained from dialogue.? Obviously there is an element of both but in a church context I think we seek to get people to rethink church through engaging at an understanding level and because we have the sub cultural weakness of evolutionary approach to change (see series of posts starting here) any change will be limited. Debbie’s comment was “remember Jesus was crucified outside the city walls” and change came from; or was motivated from outside.

Now I may be putting two and two together and coming up with six but surely there is a link between the beginning of Mark and Jesus outside the city and the end and Jesus outside the city. What is the significance for ministry and change of Jesus’ approach to remaining outside the city? Maybe it relates to looking for the third way of doing things, maybe (excuse me whilst I go into metaphor mode) it it is about being outside the city with people to discover what God wants you to do (Mark 1) and then getting on with doing it regardless of who in city takes notice or gives permission, going into the city from time to time but knowing that the real action happens outside the city walls.

2 thoughts on “Outside the city

  1. An analogy I would also make is that for me “outside the city” indicates “aloneness” – this is the place where we often make the decisions that see us through our time in the city. I don’t spend enough time in the wilderness . . . in the Lord of the Rings, Return of the King . . . the battle ultimately isn’t won on the huge battlefield where everyone with the perceived strength to make a difference is – it’s where Frodo is on his own, ring in hand, wrestling with his inner desires – do we, like Frodo, have the courage to do the right thing when no one else is looking? Maybe we struggle sometimes in the city because we haven’t chosen our course of action before we get there . . . I spend too much time making stuff up as I go along, instead of waiting, staying, being still . . . allowing God to speak to me in the wilderness.

  2. The problem might be that there are too many metafors here and their meanings aren’t as clearly defined as some modern mythologies we would use! Wilderness moments are often desired by the individual but they need to work within the context of family. As family we should understand the need for time apart and as we as individuals should be aware of the damage that can occur if we are too self purposed

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