Thursday, February 1, 2018

Difficult Teaching

When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”
Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? Yet one of you is a devil.” He was speaking of Judas son of Simon Iscariot, for he, though one of the twelve, was going to betray him. John 6:60-71 

I spent a good deal of my time as a bishop in this church developing curriculum and teaching. There are some things I prepare and teach that folks do not like hearing. Some folks don't like to hear that our church is not a safe place for many people and that gender, race and privilege are our greatest stumbling blocks. I try to help folks do the hard work of self-examination and healing, yet many want an easy life, a simple church, and a quick fix. Those don't exist, although we desire them. To be a community in Christ, we must find ourselves humbled and open, willing the hard work to enrich and restore us.

Jesus has said some things that make many people run for the hills. Long before the "Spanish Inquisition"  that no one told believers about, there were trials and abuse to be faced in following Jesus and living a life of service and justice. It is as true in our time as then. The cup we drink is both life and death. Death to self and personal fame and gain. Yet to live in Christ is to live wholly alive and willing to be humble for the life of the world. God invites us to run if we must, but for those who are willing today, this cup is offered daily, for the healing and redemption of the world.

Today I ask God to help me drink and live fully as a willing follower of Christ. Let us humble ourselves, understanding that we are no more than our teacher and we are bound together because of his sacrifice.

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