Repetition (Part 3) – Power Tools and the Messianic Secret

Part 1 – Game Loops

Part 2 – Paul the Tentmaker

Part 3 – Power Tools and The Messianic Secret

Part 4 – Memorization


Power Tools Are Awesome

Apparently I am also a fixer-upper person as well. Due to the demands of a house in the “boonies:, so to speak, I need to fix up this giant house. So many problems need to be fixed. And yet, I find it enjoyable, much as Paul and Jesus would find his own manual labor enjoyable. There’s something about working with your hands that provokes a different sort of feeling than typing a particularly brilliant essay or even winning an intellectual debate. Creating something out of pre-existing materials somewhat encapsulates the imago dei, maybe just for a little bit.

In fact, my job consisted of screwing down the deck which my father and I built earlier, and that sounds like the most boring thing in the world. Lo and behold, there’s something to enjoy in even the most menial task. Besides the obvious fun-factor of holding power tools, there’s something to learn here. I mean, seriously, if you’re a man and you get nothing out of holding gigantic electronic phallic objects that destroy/build things, your emasculation already began long ago.

The trick in drilling screws comes in both the technique and the angle. You hold the drill with one hand and the screw with the other, hoping to hit that exact right angle which will create enough torque and stability to flush the sharp object right into the wood. At the same time, you’re trying to make sure the screw sits flush to the wood floor while not screwing too far down to the other side. All of that requires some deft handling. At first, it feels incredibly awkward and weird, but repetition brings its own little quirks.

You do this over, and over, and over again. Each and every screw turns into an opportunity to perform better and better at the task before you. The time decreases from place to place as you discover new intricacies and eliminate old inefficiencies. There’s something about repetition, doing the exact same thing over and over again, that allows for eventual mastery and understanding, no matter how banal the art. Heck, I find myself with much more appreciation for many of this skills I never learned growing up (as you might guess, my family did not believe we were suited for manual labor).

Any particular task contains its own bizarre intricacies, from the things you find the most interesting (video games!) to the things which bore you to death (sports…). To close your mind to any of them, feeling yourself “too good” to do it shows a willingness to remain completely and utterly ignorant. I have experienced this myself, and I am sure many of us dismiss certain hobbies, activities, and work at a glance.


The Messianic Secret

That, of course, occurs naturally within our sinful nature. Dismissive behaviors make us feel rather wonderful, and we can cut down others to pump up our egos to extraordinary degrees. You can’t really understand something, however, unless you actually bother to study and/or do it yourself. That goes especially for actions you could only comprehend by doing them yourself.

I am not endorsing sin or anything of the sort, but putting yourself in someone’s shoes could open up a whole new world to you that you didn’t know existed. Again, why would Jesus and Paul alike bother to perform menial tasks for (what I assume was) relatively little pay? Probably just to understand things and to keep themselves humble.

This applies especially to Jesus’ case. Most academics involved in theology know that a primary motif of Mark’s Gospel comes in the “Messianic Secret”. Jesus constantly tells people, both disciples and common people alike, not to reveal what He did or who He is. Although the “motif” is highly questionable, the historical nature of Mark means that Jesus did, in fact, want to keep His ministry secret. Mark saw fit to add verses such as Mark 8 because they remained important:

27 Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, “Who do people say that I am?” 28 They told Him, saying, “John the Baptist; and others sayElijah; but others, one of the prophets.” 29 And He continued by questioning them, “But who do you say that I am?”Peter *answered and *said to Him, “You are the Christ.” 30 And He warned them to tell no one about Him.

Why would Jesus want to keep his true nature hidden? Honestly, I can’t give you a straight answer on this note. Some speculate that Jesus told people this to avoid drawing attention from governing authorities (although that proved to be a bust, as the gatherings of many thousands would prove). Others believe that Jesus’ plan could not be revealed until He performed the central task alotted to Him – to die on the Cross. In any event, either approach would imply a humble nature to Jesus’ ministry. He does not brag about himself (that is an important distinction); He lets the results speak for themselves.

The repetition required to keep one’s self humble remains a vast quantity, and yet from what we know Jesus never succumbed to pride of any kind. It takes effort, time, and work to relate to people from different contexts and circumstances; it takes 10,000 hours to learn anything well, or to understanding why people enjoy something so much. Jesus remains a carpenter for twenty-nine years before His active ministry, showing an incredible amount of patience and inquisitiveness toward His Father’s creation. And yet, Jesus does this as if it were no problem, that he never becomes impatient, and that He never does anything but the right thing. No wonder we speak of Him as our ideal – he shows us the benefits of repetition like no one else, and the exertions one makes to move the focus away from ourselves.

About Zachery Oliver

Zachery Oliver, MTS, is the lead writer for Theology Gaming, a blog focused on the integration of games and theological issues. He can be reached at viewtifulzfo at gmail dot com or on Theology Gaming’s Facebook Page.