Imagine that you are one of the seventy apostles that Jesus send out ahead of him, as he is making his way to Jerusalem, to preach and proclaim the coming of the kingdom. What would be the biggest challenge that you and your partner would face? Would it be the lack of a credit card and money? Might it be the lack of food between where you start and where you might end up tonight? Could be that you aren’t dressed just right for the journey or to preach? Are you afraid that you might be unsuccessful? What is it that stops you from making that first step? Recently I came across another poem that speaks to the struggles we experience as Church when we think about our walk with Christ:
One night I had a wondrous dream. One set of foot prints there were seen. The foot prints of my precious Lord but mine were not along the shore. But then some stranger prints appeared. I asked the Lord, “What have we here?” These prints are large and round and neat but Lord, they are too big for feet. My child he said in somber tones. For miles I carried you alone. I challenged you to walk in faith but you refused and made me wait. You disobeyed, you would not grow; the walk of faith you would not know. So I got tired, I got fed up and there I dropped you on your butt. Because in life there comes a time when one must fight and one must climb; when one must rise and take a stand…or leave your butt prints in the sand. - Unknown
Those of us who follow Christ often worry about the implications and the complications of following Christ in the everyday world: will this place be a good place? Will I be well received? Will this be good for me and my family. That is the difference between religion and discipleship. Being religious means that you can stay right where you are and be religious and to be religious on your own terms. Being a disciple means that we are under the discipline of another and that means we are not in charge. And the more that we take charge of our own lives and situations the harder it becomes for us both personally and corporately to live in moments when we must yield and when we must surrender to the call and to the will of the Master. What gets in the way of your discipleship, of your obedience to the Master? Obedience requires that we be near to the Master to hear him so that we know how he wants us to serve him. After all it is in Christ that we live and move and have our being, is it not? We need to stop, to be still and to listen so that we can in turn, move and serve in his power and in his name. To do otherwise means that we fail to hear and thus are not where we ought to be. Such failure makes us an absurd (the opposite of obedient) community who lives to itself and therefore slowly dies to itself. There is no health and there is no salvation within such a community because it is away from God.
God calls his people in to mission with him so that they might not only have life but all that his life has to offer us. It is in living such a life that we are able to draw others into relationship with us and with God. The Church is not called to turn the world upside down but rather turn itself inside out. Being this kind of inside out community is never going to be easy – there are going to be struggles in being community before we can reaching out to draw others in. Other people need to see in us a glimpse of us as community at table with Jesus. The world needs to observe the love that overflows and abounds through the hospitality that we give one another. People need to see that relationships are transformed not just people; that the old is being made young, the broken are being made whole and that all things are being brought to perfection in Christ.
Take a risk this week and make the kingdom known through your life and ministry and let’s make castles at play lest we find our own butt prints in the sand.