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Practice Playing Second Fiddle

I can’t stop thinking about Romans 12:10, particularly its last sentence from The Message translation:

Be good friends who love deeply;
practice playing second fiddle.

I preached on this text and its surrounding verses several weeks ago, and love the way Eugene Peterson puts Paul’s words into today’s vernacular:  Be good friends.  Love deeply.  Practice playing second fiddle.  It has called to mind all of those “good friends” I’ve had over the years, the ones who have loved me and my family deeply.  It’s also challenged me, making me ask hard questions like: To whom might I be considered a “good friend”?  Am I “loving deeply” or do I more frequently content myself with surface-y conversations and relationships?  And, if I am content to do so, what is keeping me from wading into deeper waters with people?

Good questions to ask.  Being self-aware is important.  Being a “good friend who loves deeply” is even more so.  But what about that second line?  “Practice playing second fiddle.”

I’ve started reading a book recently entitled, “Is It Time? Helping Laity and Clergy Discuss Homosexuality One Question at a Time” by Adolf Hansen – the “Theologian In Residence” at St. Luke’s UMC in Indianapolis.  In the introduction, Hansen invites the reader to “ask questions rather than formulate answers” because too frequently people jump to defend or attack certain points of view.  What a novel approach.

Asking questions liberates us from the burden of being the know-it-all.

Asking questions gives us permission to learn.

Asking questions invites us to play second fiddle.

And I can’t help but wonder if asking questions isn’t also a way of being a “good friend” and “loving deeply.”  I get so tired of pundits and posts, tweets and hot takes that are spouted off 24/7.  I get tired of watching people talk past one another.  I grow weary of people always wanting to take the lead, of feeling compelled to be “right,” and the utter lack of humility that has spread through our culture and infected each one of us worse than what this year’s flu influenza is doing.

I know I’m teetering on sounding preachy right now, but that is of course what I am – a preacher.  And the only message I know to preach is the one that was modeled for us by Jesus Himself.  The One who loved deeply, and became good friends with bad sinners.  The One who…

being in very nature God,
   did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
   by taking the very nature of a servant,
   being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
   he humbled himself
   by becoming obedient to death—
       even death on a cross! - Philippians 2

Lent is about to begin.  Perhaps it is indeed time – time for us to start playing second fiddle, time for us to love deeper, time for us to become better friends, time for us to be more like Christ.

To the cross we go,

Pastor Jared
Associate Pastor
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