the cross and the serving spoon

I've thought before about Jesus' shift from a more obviously "helpful" ministry (healing, feeding people) to his turning towards Jerusalem and the cross, an act that couldn't have seemed at all helpful or valuable at the time. And now it comes back to me again. Specifically in relation to recent anxieties about being (or wanting to be) admired as a good or virtuous person.

People readily respect and admire those who help others in tangible ways (food, clothing, shelter, etc). They easily see the value in ministries like that. Not too long ago, the government even wanted to provide public funding for such ministries, seeing them as important "social services." But this respect and admiration and official embrace makes me suspicious. And what about Jesus? He was gaining admiration and acclaim as a healer, providing a tangible service to society--why leave it and turn his face towards Jerusalem? And why does he say "take up your cross and follow me," instead of take up your hammer, or serving spoon? The cross is not admired. It doesn't seem to have any value as a "social service." And the government is certainly not going to promote such useless activity (except maybe to provide the wood and nails).

I think this highlights a big difference in values. People value productivity, the services we render that enable society to function better and that raise "standards of living." But that's not what God values. God doesn't want our productivity. God doesn't need us to improve society or fix the problems around us. God isn't interested in us for the services we can provide him. God is interested in us--for ourselves.

We come to God telling him what we can do for him, like we're applying for a job or something. What a joke. What God wants is faith, our complete dependence on him, putting ourselves in his hands. It's not our work God wants, God wants us.

That's why the cross is a lot better witness than the serving spoon. But while the person with the serving spoon is everywhere respected and admired, the person on the cross is despised and mocked.

And that's part of the witness, too.