Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Minor Characters

Before we move on an actually talk about some of the minor characters that got me thinking about this, I wanted to take one more day to talk about how important the so-called "minor" characters really are. And to this, I wanted to point out that we actually already know this. 

There are Bible stories that we read all the time in which we look to the minor characters to teach us something important about the faith, about what it means to live as God's people, about how to do this life. 

These stories are...pretty much every story about Jesus. 

Listen, you would think that when we read the Gospels, the main character would be Jesus. He'd be the one we're looking at, the one we're trying to learn from, the one we're paying the most attention to. Sadly, this is true only with a very small number of the Gospel stories.

For example, Jesus sees a tax collector in a tree and invites Himself over to the guy's house. Remember, one of the criticisms that the Pharisees leverage at Jesus is that He eats with tax collectors and sinners. But to us, this is the story of Zacchaeus, and the whole point of the story is either 1) that we should be so eager to get a glimpse of Jesus that we'll do whatever it takes, even climbing a tree in the middle of a crowd or 2) one encounter with Jesus will change our corrupt hearts enough that we repent of our sin and atone for it.

How about Mary and Martha? We spend a lot of our time talking about whether it's better to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to Him teach or to spend our time in the kitchen washing dishes to feed our houseguests...when the truth is that we've actually decided that it's best to spend all of our time talking about two women and not about the Jesus who not only visits their home, but is an actual true friend of theirs. 

We have a lot to say about the demonaic who was chained up in a cemetery and kept breaking those chains, running around naked and cursing and foaming at the mouth, and we have a lot to say about the herd of pigs into which those demons were cast, and we have even quite a bit to say about the townspeople who came out to see what in the world was going on and were terrified by peace...but we seem to have so little to say about the Jesus who crosses the sea just to heal this man and then crosses it back. 

Strange, isn't it, that when you give us the stories of Jesus, we immediately start looking at all the "minor" characters to try to figure out what the story means for us...but give us the story of Esther, and we can't be bothered by characters like Mordecai or Haman. 

Because, I mean, clearly, we are Esther, right? Clearly, the whole point of the story is that we were made for such a time as this. That's what we take from it. We all imagine ourselves to be David, not Jonathan - the warrior/king, not the faithful friend. 

But what if we're not? What if we're not the heroes of the stories, but the supporting cast? What if we read the rest of the Bible with the same eyes with which we read the Gospels - knowing that every single character is there to teach us something about what it means to live the life of faith?

What if we're missing part of the beauty of the story because we're too quick to read it only in one dimension?

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