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  • John Bryant

Mark 1:16-20: Surely When I am Bored I am with the Risen Christ

Updated: Jun 15, 2020

Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” And immediately they left their nets and followed him. And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.


When Jesus takes a man, he doesn’t just take him from what he’s doing, but from what he’s used to doing. And the only thing he knows to do.


And promises them, what?


What do we do when Jesus is not an Answer? When Jesus is not Content but Claim? When the Sound of His voice is nothing but our Leaving?


And to follow him where?


To be a Christian is more than just to follow Jesus. It is to have His Death and Resurrection. For us to have Christ’s Death and Resurrection is for Christ to have our shaking hands and to take us where we do not want to go. For His Death and Resurrection to lead us through ours.


We know sin, we know it very well. It's where we'd like to stay. It’s Christ we don’t know very well.


Christ takes these men, and takes them many places. But most of all, he takes them from what life isn't into what life is.


Through my work, through my time spent trying to do my work well, Christ has led me out of what I can only call the Realm of Ceaseless Cognition. It’s the fact that growing up, and now into my early 30’s, all I’ve done and all I’ve known how to do is Think. Like rat on a wheel in the front of my head, spinning, spinning, spinning. Turning things over and over again. Until I feel better about myself, and my life.


I’ve tried to make Christ into my Thoughts About Christ. That is where, I think, he Lives and Moves and Has His Being.


I’ve taught myself, introverted as I am, I have Christ when I think about Christ. That I’m in Christ when I’m thinking about him.


Thinking about Christ makes me feel better when I feel bad. But the idol, then, is simple: the point of Christ is to make me feel better when I am feeling bad.


The hardest thing about being a street pastor is disruption it brings to the administration of ceaseless cognition that has set itself over and against my life. And this shows itself most in having to listen to people. Listening, really and truly listening, is a kind of crucifixion. You get better at it, but a lot of the time it feels like losing. And thinking feels like winning.


If there is someone who is talking, and if I’m someone who is listening, then I begin to walk into the long hallway in my head, the one with all the doors along it, with each door a thing to think about so I don’t have to be where I am. I walk into the door marked "Plans" or door marked "Hobbies." I've called it the Realm of Ceaseless Cognition but I've also called it “The Mind Palace.” And I walked inside the door marked “Christ” and began to think my thoughts about Him, to ruminate over what I wanted to think about him. Eschatology, Sanctification, Atonement. So that I feel better, and so I don’t have to be where I am.


And when I’m on the street with someone I find especially boring, someone who’s drunk or someone who's just talking about the weather, I’ll find Christ tapped me over the shoulder as that man speaks.


Christ interrupted my beautiful, accurate thoughtful ruminations on Christ,


To let me know He was not there.


That he was here, in this moment, with this man. In this Boredom.


"I did not die for your thoughts or your plans," Christ seems to say as I wait in the sun and listen to this man rambling. "But I did die for this man."


"You refuse," He says, "to stay with the people I died for, the people I’m returning for. You want to be in your mind. I’m coming back for a World you refuse to live in."


"And so," Christ says, "I’ll wait for you here, in this boredom, in the unadorned present tense you cannot seem to stand. With this man speaking and this wind blowing and with nothing to do but sit."


It is physically painful to not go into the door marked "Christ" or into any other door, but to wait in the World He’s coming back for. To stand, naked without my thoughts, naked without thoughts there to mitigate my boredom and frustration. To wait there like a toothache for Christ to return.


And to know, the man in front of me, and the time spent with him, is the most sacred thing in my life right now.


"It is here," Christ says, "that I'll wait for you, and here you wait with me. "


And so I sit, and I listen. And I lay everything down.

Surely when I am listening and am bored I am in Christ.




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