Monday, September 20, 2010

A matter of perspective . . .

Let me get this straight, you think Jesus expects me to love Him more than anything else in my life, and He expects me to use everything I have for Him? Is He kidding or are you mistaken? – Versions of those questions have abounded the last couple weeks. To remind you of our recent readings in Luke, Jesus has told those who seek social standing by following Him that He has no place to lay His head. He has told those who first want to take care of worldly things that they are not fit for His kingdom or are themselves dying. Finally, last week, He reminded us that the cost of following Him is a death of self and a cross to bear. Certainly, as we joked last week, He needs to find a good PR firm and quick!

But as we also discussed, He is most certainly serious about the costs of discipleship. Jesus understands all too well the life to which He calls us, and He wants us to make an informed decision. Still, it seems a bit too much to our sensibilities. If I give my time, my money, my talents for His service, what happens to me? How can I take care of me? How can He ask such a thing of me? It’s too much. I have bills to pay. I need more sleep. I need me time.
But, as Jesus also understands far better than we, and as one of the lessons in this week’s hard parable, we are reminded by Him that our perspective must needs shift when we become one of His disciples. We are reminded, as we were by our opening Collect, that we should be focused on the eternal rather than temporal. You and I and all His disciples are not “of” this world. Our home is with Him. Our mission is what He gives us. Our promise is His Word.

How else can we face the trials of life with determination, hope, and joy? Our health sometimes fails us; relationships break down, addictions rear their ugly heads, our friends betray us, our coworkers stab us in the back—how can we ever face the trials of life with joy and peace and an absolute certainty that we will win in the end? The answer, of course, lies in the fact that He died for our sins and was raised to new life! And because He was raised and has promised to raise us as well, we can face the problems of this life as citizens of an eternal kingdom. We can face death and disease, sad at their occurrence, but certain that our grave will not be the last spoken of us. We can work to mend relationships with others because He crossed the chasm that existed in the relationship between God and us. And we can use the gifts He has given us, confident that our Father in heaven, the creator of all things, wants nothing but the very best for each one of His sons and daughters, and He will gift us everything we need.

How do we face life and all it throws at us? How we answer that question may be the best sermon a friend or family member or even a stranger ever hears. Because, if we answer that question with the joy and belief of one of His disciples, with the perspective of those focused on His promised Kingdom, others will want to know about our joy and how they might share in it in their own lives.

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