Everyone can be a disciple. Not everyone will. The first people Jesus called “left everything.” I put myself in their sandals and say, “I can’t follow Jesus today, because (fill in the blank).
If we read the Gospels, I think we see what John the Baptist saw. We know that maybe we should follow that Jesus. Maybe we should become his disciples. That leads us to the question, “Who can be a disciple of Jesus?”
When Jesus enters into Jerusalem, he is baptized again. This time by his suffering on the cross. He descends into hell and sets loose those who were held captive. Then on Easter he exits by way of the resurrection. This is our road map.
Jesus speaks of doing particular things; feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty, befriending the stranger, clothing those exposed to weather or social cruelty, caring for the sick, and visiting the imprisoned. Our opportunities to be Christ-like will come in the form of specific people with individual needs.
When we do Christmas, it is very tempting to skip the story of King Herod's murdering the children of the Bethlehem region. I remember one adroit fool suggesting that we could skip Matthew 2:13-23 in our Sunday lections because the event discribed doesn't appear in the secular histories of the time and could have been made up by Matthew. The only secular histories we have from this period are pro-Roman and okay with Herod's "lock innocents in cages" type of politics.
We, like Joseph, tend to consider the opinions of our neighbors higher than our faith when we are faced with a moral choice. We criticize unwed teens, but do little to make our highschools better enviroments for relational growth. Further, the church does little to transform those neighborhoods where a normal and safe childhood is an impossibility.
The wealthy pass themselves lavish tax breaks and the 1% deny the the majority a reasonable wage, affordable healthcare, or a decent retirement package. As much as things change, they remain the same.
It is possible for a roll of film to go a decade or two without being developed. During that time, the images are invisible. Any attempt to see what is on the film results in erasing the image. Only by carefully processing the film is the photographer’s art brought to light. Often things are hidden away until it is the right time for them to be revealed. A baby is hidden in womb until it is born...
I don’t know how to get others to the mountain. I only know that it is where I need to be. “O house of Jacob, come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!” (Isaiah 2:5).
The Rock of Gibraltar for people in Jesus’s day was the temple in Jerusalem. Solomon had built the first temple and it lasted over 400 years. Jesus He says Herod’s temple won’t last 40 years.
In this modern era, it takes courage to speak about the reality of Heaven. Our bodies are mortal, from the moment of our birth we begin to die. Yet, our culture idealizes youth and riducules those who are content with the aging process. Often we are told that believing in heaven is silly, only a pie in the sky.
In matters of religion, we should expect reversals. Those who start out well, don’t always end well. Getting into heaven is not a matter of joining the right church or developing the right theology or holding on to traditional values, whatever those might be.
Being short – as in having less money than you need at the moment – and being up a tree, are expressions we use for those awkward or dangerous moments when our own stupidity is about the be rewarded. What about you? Are there personal potholes that you fall into? Traits that work against your desire to be on top of life?
Faith is Bilbo Baggins in Mirkwood Forrest or one of the servants in Downton Abbey trudging along but knowing that they have been placed on that path by a God who loves them and impowers them to go on.
For fun do this: take an empty chair and put it out in front of the congregation. Say, “Here sits the invisible man. Jesus tells us that his name is Lazarus, but none of his neighbors know that. He sits here hungry, but no one notices his situation. Lazarus is homeless, living in the street near the rich man. Since he lacks an address, the census doesn’t count him, he can’t vote, and his congressman doesn’t see him as a constituent, and his president considers him a loser...
It outrages us when a company chooses profits over life. Yet most of us, in our day-to-day choices, will honor money above relationships. We will cut off the neighbor or family member who borrows from us and fails to return the money. We will balance our checkbooks to the last penny and yet do not find time for daily devotional reading or weekly worship.
A young married couple find their money disappearing and their credit cards running amok, until they draw up a budget and measure where it’s all going to. So much in life doesn’t count unless you count it carefully.