You are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things. (Mark 8:33)
How often have we lived into this statement? We are humans, after all. Of course our mind will often remain on human things.
What is interesting is that Jesus was very focused on what many would call “human” things. He cared about broken bodies, literal hunger and thirst, physical suffering, economic hardship, and so many other parts of what we think makes us human. He cared about the messes of life – he came and lived in those same messes, on purpose.
I remember several years ago, I saw an article about a church I once knew from back in the 1950s or 1960s. It was from the city’s newspaper and the writer was praising the church for its wonderful leadership in “spiritual matters.” Frankly, that statement terrified me.
When people see the passage above, especially just this verse, they assume that we should be keeping our eyes fixed on heaven. We should care about our souls and the afterlife. It is all about our personal relationship with God, not about human affairs. Right?
That is not what Jesus is saying in this passage. He has just fed over 8000 people and made a blind man see. He is healing people right and left. He is still very much in the midst of the muck and mire of caring for bodies. He is not negating half of his calling.
Instead, Jesus is speaking about his impending death and resurrection. Peter once again does not get it and attempts to shut him up. Peter does not want to hear about death and suffering. He wants to see this mission through to a brand new world where everything is made right. He wants to skip right over Calvary and go straight to Easter morning. He is terrified of what his teacher’s words might mean for him.
To which, in stark Mark-like fashion, Jesus responds, “Get behind me Satan!” (In Hebrew, the word for satan literally means “tempter.”) Then Jesus goes on to make this statement about divine and human things. The point is not that God cares only about our souls or afterlife. Rather God cares about our whole selves, including our physical bodies now. The question is, who’s approval are you looking for?
If we care about the world’s opinions, human thoughts, we will live our entire lives in fear of failure, rejection, and abandonment. Worse, we will never fully fulfill our calling as followers of Christ because we will be too timid to do much of anything.
On the other hand, if we care about divine things, God’s opinions and purposes, it will keep our minds and hearts focused on what they should be. As our minds and hearts grow closer to God, our hands will extend further into a world full of messy bodies, bringing new life and love in full measure.
We are to follow Jesus, my friends. That means that at some point we must get over ourselves, stop worrying about our reputations, forget about the world’s expectations, and start living out the gospel with reckless abandon. The whole point of God’s revelation is that God does care about human matters, not just spiritual ones. The real question is, will you?