No one shall appear before me empty handed

Jesus Christ, Rio Janeiro, Christ, StatueWe follow Jesus at a distance- following too close is costly. For everything that we are and everything that we strive to be still has some meaning in the world, as long as we let it. We can tell ourselves that one or two drinks will be o.k. but then we drink ourselves to excess. One night will not lead anywhere. God will rescue me. But if God is the rowboat, we are the oars, and some of us have forgotten how to paddle.

Jesus is not a lot of talk, he is a lot of silence. He does not babble on and on and write you excuses for what it is you want to do. He is a mystery in this world, completely not of it, and therefore not a partaker in its sin. 

We come empty-handed to God expecting magic tricks. If I pray enough, If I read enough scripture things will surely change for me. But the bible is not a wand and our words to heaven are not hocus pocus. Change from within is a slow process and we have to come with something, something to leave behind and sacrifice on His holy altar.

Nobody thinks much about sacrifice, it is counter-cultural. But Jesus is counter-cultural. If Jesus walks left, we should be walking right. The journey is dirty. It is too much to leave what we have and be with Him. We love our addiction more than we love Him. We are addicted to our own selves and the selfishness that it produces.

You don’t have to leave the world to follow Him, well not in a physical sense anyway. But yes you will have to leave the world. That includes your pride, your drugs, your definitions of what is acceptable behavior, your just this one time, your excuses, your holding onto the world. The drink may go down smooth, but Jesus refused it for you. He felt his pain.

The gospel is harsh. It is not a neat package or clean or money raining down from heaven. It is not undefined. There is no confusion about what it says, the world confuses that. It is bright lines. You don’t like it because it’s not easy. You don’t like it because it is speaking directly to you. You don’t like it because it requires you to sacrifice the very thing that you love, and you love it more than you love him, so you follow Him at a distance.

“the whole world  (which) is in the power of the evil one” makes man’s life a battle.” (Catechism 409, 1 John 5:19).

You’ll never get anywhere if you can’t touch him; if you are sitting down with the servants to see the outcome. (Matthew 26:58). The gospel is not a show in high-definition. 

“Peter was following him at a distance as far as the high priest’s courtyard, and going inside he sat down with the servants to see the outcome.” Matthew 26:58

Leave the world behind

“Be His people in the world, ” Father Michael

We all want to be something, something more than we already are. But our motives are all certainly different. In the world, it is money and fame and self-absorption. We are propelled by always trying to be something more. The simplicity and teachings of the gospel are just too much for some with its anti-pop cultural message- the things of this world will pass away, but I will never pass away.

It is counter-intuitive to not want to get credit for our work. It doesn’t make sense to the world when believers sell everything and move halfway across the world to serve as missionaries. Many of us who are believers long for adventures like that, long for God to call us to bigger and better things, but alas, we are still in our minds “stuck” in our jobs and in our everyday lives, no “big” calling, no moving halfway across the world. This for many is disappointing. Looking around at our fellow congregants and saying to ourselves, “I wish that was me.”

I believe that so many times, the church ends up mirroring the world. We get caught up in our expectations of what God will do for us, how he will use us. We want to be pastors or deacons, ministry leaders, travel the world. And although these things may be the pathway for some, it is not for all. We are missing what God has for us right before our very eyes.

We don’t write to please others, or  raise our children the way the world tells us. Our marriages are built on the foundation of Christ, not of the world. We are to be servants at our jobs, and forgive, and pray for those that have offended us and spitefully used us. We are to be light in the darkness. 

Jesus did not have a formal ministry. He took the message into the world; He was among the people. God took on flesh to teach us what it was we needed to do. And those things are clear, seek the lost, preach the gospel at all times and live in the way He has called us. We have to stop looking at the way the world does business, stop bringing it into our churches. The call on your life is right where you are. 

I have found that in that acceptance, there is so much freedom. I, like many can get carried away at times with where I think God should have me. But then I remember Mary at the wedding feast at Cana, “Do whatever He tells you.”

So if you are doubting your impact on your children as a stay at home mom, hate your job in the world, or simply are waiting on God to move you somewhere else, remember who you are serving, the seeds you are planting. It only takes one person to change the world. (Rest in heavenly peace Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)