Christians live in this world, but we are called to be - not of this world. The things of this world are not of the Spirit, they are of this world, this finite, decaying world
“. . . Where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal” Matthew 6:19
We are called to be children of the Light, children led by the Spirit - who brings the light of Christ into the world. We are children of God, his beloved - for whom he has given his only Son, so that we might be free – free from sin and corruption- free from the trappings of this world – free to live in peace and love in His heavenly kingdom – forever and ever.
The life of discipleship into which we are called is not what we think is “the good life” - a life of ease, - a life free from strife, or heartache or disappointment. We are not called as disciples into a life free of suffering or struggle. There is no promise of “the good life” here, in this world. “The Good Life” we seek is “The Eternal Life” waiting for us in the Kingdom of God.
Today’s readings speak of our journey of discipleship to which we are called. We are told what it is we can expect – when we listen to and hear - the call of the Spirit in our hearts; moving us toward – a closer, more intimate relationship with God through His son, Jesus Christ.
As we hear in today’s readings, there is resistance and hesitation – Elisha wants to kiss his mother and father before he follows God’s call. Two of the disciples that Jesus calls - want to return home to take care of unfinished business before taking up their journey with Christ.
The allures of this world are strong. We are weak and frail human beings, who, - left to our own devices, - would succumb to the temptations of this world, - the “desires of the flesh”, -- to hesitate or remain in a world ruled by the “evil one” - who delights in our corruption – taking us away from our call of the Spirit - into the Kingdom of God. But the Spirit encourages us to take heart: - to believe in the power of God to make all things possible. So we can do amazing things – in His name - things we may believe are well beyond us.
Those who “. . . hear the Word of God and act on It.” are Mother and brothers of our Lord, Jesus. When we hear our call, we are not to look back – like Lot’s wife - with regret or desire for the things of this world. Even our family - in this world - must not turn us away from our call to discipleship. We, like Jesus, must turn our “face toward Jerusalem” and surrender to our new Life in Christ.
When Jesus says, “Follow me.” we cannot hesitate - or wait for a better or more convenient moment in our life - to take up our cross - to follow in His footsteps. We are to be like the first disciples, - who, at the lakeshore - when Jesus called them to “become fishers of men” - drop our nets, or whatever we are doing - to follow Him; leaving this world we know behind. Trusting in the Lord and believing completely in our hearts, so we may follow in His Way.
Surrendering ourselves to the Spirit; - hearing the call of God in our hearts – begins our new Life in Christ. We leave behind our old selves – subject to the temptations of this world of sin and corruption. We put on Christ; - continuing his mission of bringing the Good News to the poor, - making disciples of all nations and baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
In this new life in Christ, - we are not promised an easy journey in discipleship. In fact, we are told - that there is suffering and hardship – even torture and death. When we recognize Jesus as the Messiah, - like Peter in last week’s Gospel, - Jesus tells us that we, - like him, - must endure many sufferings and that, “Whoever would save his life will lose it and whoever loses his life, for my sake will save it.”
The call to discipleship is a call of surrender - surrendering our life - out of this world - to a new life – a life in Christ - a life free from our slavery to the sin and corruption - to a life of freedom – a life of peace, joy and everlasting love – in the Kingdom of God, forever and ever – Amen.
Deacon Don Ron