The Fine Print

It seems that just about everything we
need to get done nowadays involves some
sort of contract. And in every one of those
contracts there is a great deal of fine print. By
“a great deal of fine print” I mean this—A.
Great. Deal. Of. Fine. Print. That fine print
continues to grow, too. I guess it is natural
that organizations must do everything
possible to avoid any unwanted litigation.
Even simply updating our phones and other
personal devices usually requires us to click
that we “have read and agree to the terms
and conditions” (quick question: does anyone
else besides me not read the terms and
conditions when going through a device
update?). Fine print is everywhere in our lives.
When we do not read the fine print, there
is always a chance that we end up in an
undesirable predicament. We can reach a
point where we may say something like, “This
is NOT what I signed up for!” But when we
make a commitment, and when the fine print
articulates the details and responsibilities of
that commitment, we are bound—whether or
not we believe that we signed up for it.
In Mark 10, a few of the disciples were
asking for a special favor. More to the point,
they were asking for special status. There
were many problems with this request. One of
the problems was this: those two disciples—
James and John—demonstrated with their
request that they clearly had not read the fine
print. They did not understand the gravity of
what they were asking. They truly had no idea
what they were signing on to do and to be. In
Jesus’s initial response to them, he said
simply, “You do not know what you are

We must take care to not be like James
and John were in this story.
In truth, there are many, many stories
in the gospels that show the disciples—
whether only a handful of them or the
whole group—having not read the fine
print. Although we rightfully see these
twelve ancient brothers as prime examples
of what it means to be faithful, committed,
courageous, and determined, we also see
them in their worst moments. We see them
when they struggle to understand. We see
them when they miss the point of what
Jesus is doing in this world. We see them
when they flat-out deny the reality of what
the Christ came to do and to be. We see
them not understanding what Jesus is
demanding in terms of dedication, of
loyalty, and of faithfulness. We see them at
their most human moments and at their
most vulnerable moments.
We, too, are human, of course.
Because of that, we are prone to the same
mistakes, misunderstandings, and
misgivings to which the Twelve were
prone. Yet we, like them, are prepared by
God through the Holy Spirit to be
dedicated, loyal, and faithful. We are
prepared by God to understand the
commitment we have made in Christ. We
are prepared by God to be a holy and
devoted people.
When we come to Jesus in faith, when
we call ourselves Christian, when we say
that we are responding to the call of Christ
to “follow me,” do we truly know what we
are signing on to do and to be? Do we
have a grasp on the demands? Have we
read the fine print?

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