Whatgoes through your head when you get a phone call and the person on the other end greets you with, “Don’t worry. Everything is OK”? That the cue to start worrying?
Or the dentist says, “You might feel a little discomfort”? I think dentists and I have two different definitions of the word “discomfort.”
Or Jesus says to us, “Follow me, but don’t be afraid”? Uh oh. That makes me a bit apprehensive. If you follow me, people will say hateful things about you. If you follow me, people will want to physically hurt you. If you follow me, some people you thought you could count on will abandon you. If you follow me, you will lose your life. Rather than peace, it’s swords and division.
Why would Jesus say things like this? Why is his language so harsh? There are, I think, a couple of reasons:
–Because he’s making it very clear that what he’s asking his followers to do actually is that difficult, and,
–Because God’s vision for the world is that big a deal.
The U.S. Soccer team is playing in the World Cup in Brazil. They continue to endure grueling physical workouts, a horrible travel schedule that keeps them away from home for weeks at a time, a lack of support from many of the citizens of their own country, and the knowledge that in spite of all their work and effort and talent, they probably aren’t good enough to win the World Cup. Why do they do it?
Because the opportunity to play in this world tournament is that big a deal. The hope that they might have a chance to do well—with the opportunity to possibly win it—is worth all of the effort and more. It’s that big a deal.
Those who were part of the Civil Rights protests in the 1960s endured threats, beatings, arrests, even death. Yet they continued. Why would they do this?
Because a culture where they could have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else is worth all that and more. It’s that big a deal.
God is accomplishing something in creation that is that big a deal.
–Imagine a world where you are so valued that you are recognized as worth everything. For God that’s a big deal.
–Imagine a world where you can live every day free from any threat of any violence, where you live free from worry, free from fear. For God that’s a big deal.
–Imagine a world where we all are willing to share so generously with anyone else that every person has enough of everything. For God that’s a big deal.
–Imagine a world where you are encouraged, loved, accepted just as you are right now without any conditions whatsoever. For God that’s a big deal.
Can you begin to envision a world like that? Because God can. That’s God’s vision. And it is God’s intention and mission to make that happen. Bringing the reality of that vision into this world is what Jesus is about. IT’s that vision that he lives for, that he died for, that we can see in the resurrection. It’s that vision he gives to his disciples. And it’s that vision he sends us into the world to make real. No one ever said that would be easy.
That is why the church exists. That is why we are here. LCM exists because God has a vision for the world, and we have been called to reveal it.
This mission into which we’re baptized is hard. It is costly. It is inconvenient. It is uncomfortable. Because this mission is not about us, or what we like, or what’s comfortable for us. IT is only about God’s mercy, forgiveness, peace, and love being made real in the world. So we do things to embody God’s vision:
–we practice forgiving each other, taking that into the world,
–we love those who are different than us; even our enemies,
–we show the world what real peace looks like,
–we reveal unselfishness to them,
–we live generously, giving away more of our money than makes sense for the sake of others.
–we publicly stand with those who, because of nationality, economic status, or sexual orientation, have been made to feel worthless in our culture.
We do all this not because it’s easy or comfortable, but because in our baptism God’s mission becomes our mission.
At our council meeting last Tuesday our council president, Roger Johnson, used this gospel text as our opening devotion. We spent 45 minutes talking about the cost of discipleship, and what it means today to follow Jesus.
Pastor Brigette. As pastoral leaders called to this congregation we want to be very clear that God’s mission is what we believe to be the freedom, joy, and heart of the gospel. Our calls here as ministers of Word and sacrament revolve entirely around proclamation and equipping for God’s mission.
Council. We talked about this at our meeting, and we decided that we are affirming here this morning that we are disciples of Jesus. As such, our call as elected leaders is to set a direction for LCM that is deeply rooted in our purpose within God’s mission in the world. We are assuring you publicly that we are committed to that.
Jesus tells us it will be hard, that the consequences of following him can be severe and even painful. And yet, he says, don’t be afraid. It is in God’s vision that you find your life. It’s that big a deal.