Could we ever bring ourselves to really believe some people are useless? There is little doubt you have been in a conversation at one time or another when just such an observation was made. Maybe you agreed. Could be you defended the person in question. I read Doug Pagitt’s reflection on two of the RCL texts for the week over at The Hardest Question. For me, this is the hardest question. How is it that we could ever consider someone useless? Followed quickly by the realization that God makes this assertion by implication in the story of the Potter and the Clay.
Now that you have ratcheted your jaw up to its before the floor drop position, consider the texts. The Songwriter expresses wonder at his human existence. He marvels at the unlikely being real as God created life from two becoming one. Jeremiah does not undermine that wonder does he? Have the “people of God” become useless in the purpose to bear the image of God to/with the nations? It would seem from the image the consequence of failing to embody the way of God in the world results in life that is useless. That is not to say people are useless, but the way of life fails to call attention to a reflective goodness in the world – that is the glory of God.
At this point we witness Jesus contending there is need to set aside all other images of the Jesus way – be they tied to family of origin or one’s own family. For those nervous with exclusivity, we do indeed see Jesus calling attention to the uniqueness with which he lives out the Way of God in the world and calls those who would follow Him to do the same.
The Apostle Paul then shares a letter invoking the image of uselessness and usefulness in his own life story – and that of Onesimus.
What for you is the hardest question? What for you do these texts bring to bear on the manner you express what it means to follow Jesus?