Sunday, March 25, 2012

Follow Me -- Into Service

Sensing there must be something more than the decision-dimension to the Kingdom of God, Faith Community Church has returned to the Gospel of Jesus Christ to find out what HE called people to. We have found Him calling, "Come, follow me."

This Sunday series in Lent unpacks what it might mean to be the people of God calling others to do just that, follow Jesus. It becomes obvious that Jesus doesn't usually say more than "follow," but the time/space context does flesh out the intent.

A rich, young man comes to Jesus seeking advise about right living and eternal destiny. He has a lot going for him. He is young. Rather than wait til life and its various pursuits have passed, he comes to remember his Creator in the days of his youth. He will serve God with all his youthful vitality and for length of days.

This young man is rich. He has provisions to do much more than a poor man could in service to Jesus. He has benefitted from the best while growing. He is blessed.

His moral quest makes him a seeker. Seekers find what they seek much more frequently than non-seekers. He has concern for spiritual things, realizing there is more than a merely physical existance.

But Jesus says he lacks one thing. "Go sell all you have and give it to the poor, then, come and follow me."

Moral correctness and financial provision fall short. To follow Jesus for this young man meant letting go of control of his life from this point forward. Selling his possessions, seeing what was his as not his any longer, would be a first step. And as the old axiom says, "Watch that first step, it's a doozie!" Selling his things, like a burnt offering, releases them into God's hand -- it cannot be recovered. Holding everything as stewards for God who really owns all does not impact us. Like Denethor in LOTR, we begin to act as lord rather than leige. But when told to sell it all, burn it all up on the brazen altar, then the issue of ownership arises and our resistance to His rule becomes exposed.

Keeping the "love your neighbor" side of the Decalogue is not enough. Right living goes well beyond rule keeping. The Lord now calls the young man to give the proceeds of his estate sale to the poor. Following Jesus for this young man meant living for the benefit of others from this point forward. This life of sacrifice continues the act of sacrifice in the call to sell.  The young man, like Father Damien, would no longer refer to those in need as you but as we. Giving the proceeds to the poor would be the start of sacrificial living.

Jesus lived a life of surrender and sacrifice. He lived for the benefit of others. We, like this rich, young man, must decide if Jesus is really Lord and if others are really loved. Following means these two are true.

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