Recently while reading the gospel of Mark as part of my lectio divina practice a line from the religious leaders about and to Jesus popped out at me:
“Teacher, we know that you are true and do not care about anyone’s opinion. For you are not swayed by appearances, but truly teach the way of God.” – Mark 12:13
While we’ve tended to construct an image of Jesus as meek, mild, humble and submissive I’m sure the Pharisees, the scribes, governors and kings might tell us otherwise. On the surface I am sure that he seemed quite combative, insubordinate, aggressive and rebellious to them. These are not the characteristics of a well behaved person or someone we might consider respectful and well mannered. Yet, strangely these were the actions and behaviors of one who was in full communion with God, of one who sought to truly teach the way of God.
I was drawn to this verse because all too often our behaviors and our thoughts are controlled and dictated by what we think others might think of us. What’s more, we often form opinions, act or don’t act, based not so much upon our relationship with God but rather our relationship with others. In a sense we get the relationship equation backwards not realizing that relationships must start with God and go outward. As a result, we develop all sorts of unhealthy relationships with others where all too often we give in order to take. With Jesus, though, we witness someone who simply gives to give because he knows who He is in God.
Simultaneously, while having this verse bounce around my head, I watched a documentary on Netflix about Lemmy Kilmister, the infamous front man of the band Motorhead. In the world of heavy music Lemmy is considered a god and since passing away his godlike status has only increased. In both the documentary and in various interviews most people attribute this legendary status to the fact that Lemmy did what he wanted, he lived the life of a rebel with a no holds barred attitude. Such a life brought with it a certain amount of respect and envy from onlookers. According to many, Lemmy is what so many of us yearn to be; the quintessential rock star who lived life by his own rules.
I find Lemmy to be an intriguing figure, his life is not necessarily the one I’ve wanted to lead, but I do respect the attitude that he embodied and am drawn to it. And in a strange and perverted sort of way I think he had a similar spirit to that of Jesus of Nazareth. Though, while similar not the same. It could be said that Lemmy was the quintessential son of Cain, living his life in defiance of not only other men but of God just like the warrior Nimrod (Gen. 10:9). He didn’t give a crap what others thought and kept going with the help of his bass, band and a bus (how fitting for a son of Cain!).
I’m sure to the Pharisees, the Herodians and even Pontius Pilate Jesus didn’t give a crap either. His own family said he was out of his mind. On the surface, Jesus oversteps his vocational bounds and in other cases fails to fulfill them. He heals a leper, a task meant to be done by a priest, and he forgives debts which was a job relegated to the Temple establishment. When his family requests to speak with him he shows great disrespect towards them by stating that those who do the will of God are his mother and brothers. Yet Jesus had a mission, to witness to the way of God which would require that he go against cultural convention and norms at times. This would bring about hostility and even rejection. On the surface Jesus could easily be confused with someone like Lemmy, but the distinction is that what compels Jesus to do what he does is his communion with God. Even the Pharisees and Herodians catch on to this.
So often we can come so close to getting this thing we call life right without God, yet even then it’s filled with such perversity, such disorder. Lemmy’s rebellious spirit is quite admirable but to what end? Himself? In a weird way I sometimes wonder if guys like him, whether they believe in God or not, are more in line with the Way given their free spirit and desire to simply live life to the fullest in the present moment. That alone should give us something to think about. Is it fair to say that a guy like Lemmy was closer to the Center than we might think?