This is part 5 of a multi-part series on the book of Mark.

Today, we’re in Mark 6:1-6.

Rejection & the Hypostatic Union

Jesus knew rejection and disdain. He knew the pain of not being accepted in his hometown. He went to Nazareth and was teaching in the Synagogue. As he was teaching, people were astonished: “Where did this man get these things?” they asked (6:2). How does he do these mighty works?

Isn’t this just the carpenter? (6:3). They identified Jesus by his job. “We know what a carpenter does,” they said. Not many people from his background led revolutions or knew the Torah like Rabbi Hillel. But Jesus was fully carpenter and fully God.

In the same way, by God’s grace alone I am fully petroleum engineer and fully follower of Jesus. There is no need to split the two. Unfortunately, our churches are full of people who are fully their profession and not fully followers of Jesus, but it’s time for that to change. They need to be invited to follow Jesus fully in (not despite) their societal role.

Flywheel Effect

What does western society falsely see as producing fully committed followers of Jesus? A background in Bible school, seminary, non-profit or NGO work? In my view, this is a flywheel effect problem.

The flywheel effect is originally a mechanical concept dealing in angular momentum, developed for trains and electricity. It has become a business term popularized by Jim Collins in Good to Great. Collins’s point is that companies rarely start with a homerun; instead, they most often accumulate small wins that build into positive momentum—which results in becoming great. In other words, a series of small and good decisions cumulatively over time adds up to becoming great. This is intuitive. As people, we grow up making a series of small decisions that culminate in our character as an adult; it was never one big event that shaped our lives, though events like that will certainly affect us for good or for bad.

The church has done something similar but in a negative light. To be “somebody” in the church, one must go to seminary and learn a particular way of thinking and a obtain certain lens through which to see everything. As the wheel flies and picks up momentum, everyone who commands the stage in churches has the same background and thinks of things through the same overarching lens, thus limiting influential thinking from other points of view that could be helpful to living out one’s faith in their time and place.

Businesspeople & the Church

On one hand, businesspeople have been told for far too long from the pulpit that their best shot at living out their faith is in parking cars and helping with childcare on Sunday morning—and, of course, giving generously to the government-registered non-profits that we call our churches. We have produced this lack of fullness in following Jesus ourselves.

On the other hand, businesspeople have sadly accepted their roles as lower citizens in the Kingdom of God because they have no voices from the stage to say anything to the contrary, and have not shown themselves to their churches to be those who serve God full time. Therefore, we have a self-perpetuating downward spiral where they are told more and more that people who love God “quit their jobs and join full time ministry,” further sending us down the spiral.

This flywheel effect has great momentum, but organizations such as Faith Driven Entrepreneur, Praxis, Steward Advisors Group, and OPEN (among many others) have worked to slow it down. It’s time we turn the flywheel around and spin the other direction.

A Friend in Jesus

When you struggle with your church not understanding you, you have a friend in Jesus. Mark says that they were offended by him—not because he did anything worthy of causing offense, but because they couldn’t put him in a box that they understood or could relate to.

Jesus responded, hurt deeply in his soul, that a prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among those who should know and love and support them best (6:4).

His experience was so bad that he decided miracles were not worth doing en mass, as they would be in direct contradiction to his own teaching that we should shouldn’t throw our pearls to swine (Matthew 7:6). Then Jesus marveled at their unbelief (Mark 6:6a).

Conclusion & Application

If you are a 501(c)3 church leader, this is a warning to you from the Lord Jesus: be very careful to have open eyes and open ears and a discerning spirit. Who has the anointing of the LORD on their lives for a task they aren’t technically qualified for in the eyes of the world? Who doesn’t fit into your pre-existing box (perhaps because they didn’t go to seminary or have the expected training under the belts) that the God of the universe may be pleased to use in extraordinary ways?

These synagogue leaders, friends, and family missed the very Creator of all that there is simply because he didn’t come from their background. Please, I beg you, don’t make the same mistake from those in your flock who are assigned to least-reached peoples.

Jesus left without their blessing, but almost certainly not because he didn’t care to have it. He just knew what his job was, given by his Father, to execute. There is a time to be responsibly rebellious, and this was it. He left Nazareth “and he went about among the villages teaching” (6:6b).

Greg is the President of OPEN USA. He used his education to work as a tentmaker in the Middle East for 8.5 years seeking to plant a church amongst a least-reached people group. Currently back in the USA with his wife and children, they aim to return to finish what the LORD used them to start.

To learn more about B4T, read Business for Transformation by Patrick Lai.

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