Tough Lessons in Discipleship
Dear brothers and sisters,
Jesus is traveling to Jerusalem for the last time. Along the way, he meets three men who have heard his call in their hearts. These encounters teach us three tough lessons about what it means to follow Christ. First, he teaches us that to follow Christ, we have to transfer our sense of security; we have to relocate it from ourselves to God. This is what Jesus means when he says that “foxes have dens and birds of the sky have nests, but the Son of man has nowhere to rest his head.” Christ is trustworthy, but he is not predictable. By accepting Christ’s friendship, we agree to follow him, to put our lives under his leadership. Even foxes and birds have the security of their instincts and natural habitats, but Christians are on an unpredictable adventure. We simply don’t know where God will lead us or what he may ask us to do. Second, Jesus teaches us that following him means actively taking risks. “Let the dead bury the dead” means leaving behind one’s plans and comfort zones in order to put all our hopes in Christ’s Kingdom.
Third, if we want to follow Christ, we have to expect difficulties. It is popular nowadays to focus only on the benefits of being a Christian: the sense of mission and purpose, the blessings God wants to give us, the forgiveness and the peace of heart and mind that comes with it, the strength God’s grace gives to live truly noble, virtuous lives. We should desire them and be grateful for them; but they are not the whole story. When we declare ourselves to be citizens of Christ’s Kingdom, in a sense, we lose our citizenship in this world; we become aliens, refugees waiting to return home to heaven. This earth is no longer our home, and the closer we get to Christ, the more we realize it, the more we feel its sufferings and imperfections. Christ only reached Easter Sunday by passing through Good Friday, and Christians can expect nothing less. This is the lesson Jesus teaches us with his comment about setting our hands to the plow. Once we decide to follow Christ, there will be times when we will feel like turning back, because it will be hard work. Jesus wants us to know this. He gives no false expectations.
Thank you to all parishioners who gave about $2500 to the Pregnancy Resource Center through our annual Mother/Father’s Day Baby Bottle collection, and $2500 to St. John’s Youth Ministry to help offset costs for their mission trip, which is today through Saturday. Please pray for our youth on this trip.