There once was a little boy named Johnny who was seven when he and his three year old sister Sarah were brought to church and baptized by the local clergy. On the way home, little Johnny was all teary –eyed, and his lower lip was all trembly. His parents asked him what was wrong. Johnny would not answer. His parents asked him a second time but again he would not answer. As they pulled in the driveway of their family home, Johnny broke into huge sobs. The father asked Johnny asked again sternly, “what is wrong?” Brushing back the tears and hold off a sob, Johnny blurts out “The minister said that he wants me and Sarah to grow up in a Christian family but I want to stay with you guys!”
We begin the “stony-faced” journey with Christ. For some they will think, “Oh, yes we had to be good and do our duty and be good. We need to follow and do as we are told so that everything is alright while others will concentrate on their salvation and watch for the rapture so that they can declare, “We’re out of here!” But have you ever consider that there is something more to religion than that? Like Martin Luther once said “A religion that gives nothing, costs nothing and suffers nothing isn’t worth anything”?
So let consider carefully some of what follows and see how it might fit into your life:
· Have you ever been rendered powerless? The Church is actually meant to be a reflector. Something that shows something else – but it has no power of its own. It can only reflect what it is given to reflect. So in the case of God, the Church can reflect God to show who God is to the world. We can be the first images that people see of God and how they might relate to God. So what is it that we are telling the world about God? It is important for each of us, and equally important for all of us as a community to consider what it is that we are showing the world in terms of who God is. And at the same time we can reflect the praises of the Church of and the world to God which is a part of the priestly function of the Church. We are not meant to just gather in the people, we are expected to gather up the praises of God in the world and offer that praise before God in worship of him. Would that make Church more interesting on Sundays? One thing is clear though: it is not about us – it is about God and his mission to the world and we are called to play our part and not use our own strength to make it happen.
· Why would you choose to use your freedom to do something that will make you a slave again? Christ died to set us free that we might live lives given to service to God so that we might remain free. We are beings who are made for worship and we will worship. The question is who or what will we worship? There is urgency in going and in proclaiming the Gospel. Some want to wait on blessings or signs or in natural courses of life. The good news that we have been set free needs to be proclaimed in the here and now so that others can be set free. The things that we bind ourselves to are the things that we place worth in and therefore will worship. The Church is called to bind itself the to things of God and to the love of Christ that we might remain free and serve and worship God in our generation.
· Aren’t you going to slaughter the oxen? Jesus tells us that if we start to walk with him and keep turning around to see what we have left behind that we have not really left and that we are of no use the kingdom of God. Elisha understood that. He slaughtered the oxen that he had used so that there was nothing to come back to. He had to leave them behind. He understood that there had been a change in his life and that his life was going to be very different from now on. Within the church today there is a call to “radical discipleship”. In reality there should be a call to commitment; a move toward being obedient and to being the people in Christ that we have been called to be by God. Then the radical life to which so many think we are called will be far more possible. There is a need to be totally focused on where it is we are going. And in being single minded this does not mean that we have a single track mind, quite the opposite! In being focused our lives become directed to share with all those we encounter, who God is and where it is that we are going. Through that we will invite others to come with us and for them to focus on the journey.
We’ve decided to follow Jesus so let us move forward in his strength and in his name to the glory of the coming kingdom.