When was the last time you were a jerk? Maybe your answer is never because you are good and pure. For me, it was probably right before I wrote this sentence. My primary mode for jerkiness is being hyper critical. On the one hand, if one isn’t critical at all they may lead a pretty mediocre life. If all is good and fine, then it seems that noting is excellent. On the other hand, being hyper critical can lead to radical dissatisfaction and a fore mentioned jerkiness.
While being hyper critical can weed out the hidden broken and soiled aspects of anything, being hyper critical also tends to find something wrong with everything.
I think many modern folks tend towards being hyper critical. It seems to show sophistication to disapprove and disparage everything. To be critical is one of the ways modern people seem to show care, as in, “I care enough about this thing to criticize it.” Food critics hate most food it seems. Movie Critics hate most movies. Sports Talk radio is mostly ripping the local squad. It’s almost as if the only way we know how to engage with something is to criticize it.
In the gospel we hear about Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan River. The heavens open, a dove descends upon Jesus, and the voice of God himself says, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
When was the last time you were well pleased? Maybe the answer is all the time because your life is perfect, but I’m guessing not. God is well pleased, I think, for two reasons. First of all, God is talking about Jesus. Jesus is perfect. Jesus is holy. Jesus is about to embark on the rescue mission of preaching, healing, and saving. God is well please because Jesus is obedient and submitting for the work he was brought into this world to do.
Secondly, God says this because he is God. God isn’t hyper critical. God is hyper forgiving. God is hyper healing. God is hyper patient. God is hyper loving. Yes, of course, we can be critical of things we love, but the way I think most of us are critical is not done with the kind of love that God has for us. No, God is well pleased with Jesus because God is God.
While none of us are Jesus and don’t deserve the praise Jesus received in the gospel, the God who was well please with Jesus is the same God who loves you and me. God was well please with you at your baptism as well. God loves you and can’t wait for every moment he gets to pour love and grace upon you. God wants to be well pleased with you and I every single day we take breath. By our Baptisms, may we be saved and may we hear God say to us, “This is my beloved child with whom I am well pleased.”