When Jesus went into the desert to fast for 40 days, at the end of his time when he was most hungry, thirsty and tired; Satan approached him with a series of offers. One of these offers was to take Jesus to the top of a high mountain to show him all of the Kingdoms below offering them as a prize if only Jesus was willing to fall down and worship him. Of course Jesus responds by quickly and loudly sending Satan away, seeing this offer as the temptation that it was.
In reading this story I always like to think I can easily identify with Jesus. And yet, in reality, sometimes it’s just hard to not believe the lie that we can own all of the kingdoms. That if only we climb high enough, work hard enough, put in the hours and will power; that we can somehow make it on our own.
When we reach these high places of our own making and look around at the “kingdoms” beneath us, it’s easy to feel safe and secure. The problem is that when we build a tower on our own foundation, they tend to collapse pretty quickly. Whether it’s our career, relationships, even spiritual identity. If we’re seeking to get the highest view, eventually we will be brought low.
The irony, however, is that the view from below is far more beautiful than the one from up high. We just need to know what to look for. Instead of trying to master the world and gaze upon a vast array of land and power, when we’re on the ground we get to gaze upon the intricacies of our fellow sisters and brothers. A parent playing with their child, someone helping a neighbor in town, a young couple falling in love. While being brought low may be painful and wreak havoc on our ego, it reminds us that we cannot truly separate ourselves from our fellow people. To succeed in this life is to live in community with one another.
This is the gift I have been given in the last three 1/2 years as pastor of OTR Community Church. Living downtown in Over the Rhine while pastoring a faith community right in the neighborhood has provided a beautifully transformational season where I learned to rely completely upon the people around me. Both Kelly and I have been blessed beyond measure during our time in Over the Rhine and in community with Hyde Park Community UMC.
And now, as God calls us onward to a new stage, we will take the deep life lessons gifted to us over the last few years. God has done miraculous things during our time here and it has been an honor to serve alongside all of you. Thank you all for the gift that has been to be church with you.