Illustration Courtesy of Amy Geary Holmes
The game show “Family Feud” has been on and off the air since 1976. The popular show has had a handful of hosts. The current reigning host is Steve Harvey. Steve is an upbeat, African-American man with a wide smile and a swaggered step. He introduces every show the same way: “As usual, we got another good one for ya. I’m your man Steve Harvey and this is Family Feud.” Steve says it with such vigor I really believe him (even though I know not all the shows are equally good). Week in and week out, Steve bravely steps in front of the camera and freely gives his gift of entertainment to his audience. But for me (and for others) sometimes it’s just a struggle just to show up. I worry my gifts (and all that I am) will be rejected. Instead of dashing into a church meeting, a family reunion or even the grocery store with the attitude of “another good one” I want to shrink away, become invisible or become someone that I image is stronger, more likable, or smarter. I fear that I am not enough. I assume rejection by others, myself and God to be the result. And I wonder if Jesus ever encountered this feeling – not enough.
Early in Jesus’ ministry he returns home to Nazareth and goes to church (well technically, synagogue). I would imagine the place was packed out. Jesus had been working miracles in Capernaum and surely word of his great feats had spread to Nazareth. The hometown hero had returned and the honor had been bestowed upon him to read the scroll. The scripture reading communicated the ancient promise of a savior. Jesus rolls up the scroll after he reads and proclaims that he is the savior Isaiah speaks of in the scripture. This did not go over well. Jesus showed up with all of who he God created him to be and he was rejected (Luke 4:16-30).
Vulnerability means not hiding behind any mask or armor; rather you allow the good and the bad of yourself to just “be”. Without a mask or armor to hide behind, rejection is possible (but so is great, deep connection!). So how did Jesus do it? How did he become vulnerable and live through the rejection of his hometown?
Before the synagogue event, Jesus has one notable occurrence that would apply to my argument. The scriptures record that Jesus was baptized by his cousin John. While Jesus was being lifted out of the water a voice from heaven speaks saying, “This is my son in whom I am well pleased.” And that statement is the reason Jesus did not allow the hometown rejection to scar his soul. It did not matter what others thought. The one to which it mattered the most had already given Jesus the blessing. The gospel records that Jesus moves on to bigger and better things.
The critic does not count, my friends. It is the blessing we receive from above, from ourselves and from those who love us most. That blessing sings to our souls the sweet melody of worthiness. We are worthy to give and receive love – from God, ourselves and others. The life, death and resurrection of Christ illustrate that point! There will always be critics. But the critic’s words hold no significance. We only dance to the song of the blessing.