Friday, July 19, 2013

Is Jesus Lucky to Have Us as His Disciples?

Robert Burns wrote:
O wad some Power the giftie gie us To see oursels as ithers see us! It wad frae mony a blunder free us, An' foolish notion: What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us, An' ev'n devotion!
In our vernacular, "would some Power the gift give us to see ourselves as others see us.It would from many a blunder free us, An' foolish notion: What airs in dress an' gait would leave us an' even devotion!" The picture with this entry came to my attention when a Catholic priest posted it. The chart aptly portrays what he sees when he considers the vast array of non-Catholic churches. I come from a background that the priest might consider a good fit for the cartoon. We try to be Christ's church. At times we may forget that Christ determines the parameters for inclusion in his body and that we do not. So we say things that earn the response, "So, you think you're the only ones going to heaven." Actually, it's not my call who goes to heaven. God makes that call. You and I study his message to us (the Bible) and listen to discern what he wants. Jesus prayed for the unity of his disciples in John 17. As the chart on the board in the cartoon depicts, we have not done a good job at maintaining that unity. In part that division has arisen because of personality clashes, in part because of doctrinal disagreements (a few of them actually critical), in part because of disagreements about what was most important, in part (sadly) because of ethnic boundaries. Ephesians chapter two teaches that Jesus came to break down barriers, not to erect them. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except by me"(John 14:6). Another biblical passage, Hebrews 12:1-3, affirms this when it directs reader to fix our eyes on Jesus, the author (or trailblazer) and perfecter of our faith. If we want to be Jesus' disciples, we must focus on how he walked and what he said. The experience of the early church as described in the New Testament also gives us insight into what a group of people that belong to Jesus look like (Christianity in the New Testament is lived in fellowship with other believers, not in isolation.). They met together for prayer, communion, and teaching. They sang and encouraged one another. They corrected those who had lost their focus. They considered themselves, as Jesus had, one group (or body or church) belonging to him. There were no franchises. Is Jesus lucky to have us as his disciples? No, we're the blessed ones. He has called us out of darkness into the light of the path he cleared. Let's follow him. It won't be easy, but we will do better if we realize our relationship to him and let him lead the way.

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