Monday, October 27, 2014

The Demands of Discipleship

The Gospels often highlight arguments people had with Jesus.It’s nothing new.  I read a current story about an argument between a husband and wife. 
“My husband was hinting about what he wanted for his 60th birthday. I wanted a new SUV, something practical; and my husband wanted a sports car so he could “zip” around town.  And after many conversations, he finally said in frustration:  My birthday’s in a week and I want something that goes from 0 to 200 in four seconds or less. Surprise me. And so for his birthday, I bought him a brand new bathroom scale. And then the argument started.”The point is simple: we have to watch what we say and do.  

The Word of God challenges us to treat one another fairly.

In the Gospel according to Matthew, a clever lawyer tries to trip Jesus up, asking:  “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”  A tricky question, because the law had 613 do’s and don’ts.  

In response, Jesus quoted the “sh’ma” or the central prayer of the Jewish prayer-book.  But what
Murillo's Francis of Assisi
startled the Pharisees is that Jesus links inseparably love of God and love of neighbor.  We love God to the extent we love our fellow human beings.  

To be a disciple is to see the face of God in our fellow human beings.  We can’t say we love God and yet neglect God’s people.

Jesus says: "give to everyone who asks."  It’s not always possible.  But that particular demand indicates the thrust or direction of our lives:  we have to be generous with what we have: especially with our time, talent and treasure.

Jesus says elsewhere: “To the person who strikes you on one side of the face, offer the other side as well.”  But sometimes we do have to stand up against wrongs; sometimes we do have to fight against evil.  Again, Jesus indicates that we should try as often as possible to be peacemakers, healers, bridge builders, reconcilers, forgiving.

You and I are living in-between the historical coming of Jesus centuries ago and the final coming of Jesus in glory at the end-time. And so we live in the tension between these two comings.  And often we fall short of the ethical ideals of Jesus. But the power of God within us, grace, can overcome this and empower us to live a life of discipleship.

No comments:

Post a Comment