Good News from the Bell Curve

A reading for Wednesday, January 8, 2013: John 7:37-52

There is a bell shaped curve to the mission of every organization.  At first, when there is lots of energy and the purpose is very clear and fresh, the curve moves up rapidly.  This is where most start up businesses and even the work of non-profits seems most exciting.  Everyone is noticing what is happening.

Then there is a peak.  It's a rounding off.  Maybe the business achieves as much market share as is possible, or the non-profit makes enough of a difference to be comfortable.  The curve levels off and becomes more flattened.  This is the top of the bell.  This is the best of the organization.

Perhaps sooner than most would like, if the purpose and the mission of an organization is not maintained and even renewed, things begin to change.  Organizations very quickly forget what it was that was so exciting at the beginning.  The best is not maintained.  The curve begins to move downward, from the peak of its work.

This downward moves causes anxiety.  What's happening?  Why are we losing effectiveness or watching as our comfort drifts away?  Something must be done.  So almost always, on the downward side of the bell curve, organizations become regulatory and limiting.  Following the rules becomes more important than actually accomplishing something.  This is the end of many organizations...

The Pharisees were not really an organization per se, but in our story today we see much of the same bell curve.  They have long awaited the coming of the Messiah, the one who would come and save them.  That has been their purpose and the mission of all of God's people.  But it seems they have lost sight of that purpose.  They are comfortable.  They receive the message of Jesus from the downside of the bell curve.  "Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he?"  Jesus came preaching about the good news of the coming of the Spirit of God from one side of the curve.  That was the upward side.  Follow the rules first, is the mantra of the Pharisees on the other side, and that will save us.  So they think.

We might learn a lesson in the church.  We too are an organization often living on the bell curve.  Will we renew our purpose and our mission on the upward side of the curve?  Will we seek the Spirit and the energy of God's mission?  Or will we succumb to the rules of our own comfort and the regulatory control of the downward side?

The good news is that the mission of God continues...


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