But to what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’ For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds. (Matthew 11:16-19 NRSV)
We have seen these people. We may have been these people. During a high school dance, they are the ones standing against the wall, judging all the bad dancers who are having a great time. At a football game, they are the ones in the stands, booing a referee for a call that they can only see from a distance. After worship, they are the ones in the parking lot, whispering criticisms of the recent sermon while ignoring a message that could have changed their lives.
Jesus has come to give us a life of abundance, a life in which we include and embrace others as we fully participate with him. He invites us to celebrate with others in joyous times. He encourages us to sympathize with others in mournful times. Jesus calls us to unite with others as imperfect participants, rather than to observe or judge others as critical spectators. Otherwise, we miss out on life in the rich and joyful community he offers us.
“But to what will I compare this generation?” Are we the ones playing the flute, or are we the ones refusing to dance? Are we the ones who share our tears with one another, or are we the ones who keep our distance? Are we the ones who are the first to laugh at ourselves, or would we rather laugh at others? Are we the ones who give the benefit of the doubt, or do we quickly assess others with a critical stance?
We miss out on Christ’s richest blessings when we refrain from fully embracing life in loving community with others. Jesus ends this lesson with the words, “Wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.” What appears to be foolish and clumsy participation in life together with Jesus is in reality the deepest wisdom of all.
Are you talking to ME?
Today Jesus is asking, “But to what will I compare this generation?”
In what ways might you be missing out on the abundant life in community that Jesus offers? How are you critical of others? Is it easier to find fault than to join with others to make a difference for good? Do you often make negative assumptions about people? Does your concern for your self image ever impede your enjoyment of life? Are you a critical spectator or a joyful participant?
But to what will I compare this generation?