hat would you give up to follow Jesus? Family? Church building? Job? Status? Security? And that begs the question, What wouldn’t you be willing to give up? I honestly struggle with the thought of giving up family and security. The other things are less important to me. (I didn’t say “not important!”)
Jesus got into trouble when he expressed his faith in God by saying, “Destroy this temple...and in three days I will build it again!” (John 2:19) And in the Gospel of Mark the leaders listening to Jesus’ words interpreted them to mean their building and they weren’t willing to see that destroyed for holy purposes. Point is they seemed more interested in their stuff than the savior. I am wondering aloud if I’d fare any better? You?
I’d like to suggest that we all want to leave a legacy--make a lasting difference, and often we think the tangible things like buildings, money, houses, and the like, are the best way to do that. Jesus teaches us the best way to leave a legacy and make a difference is to follow God with abandon, it’s spiritual, not physical. Seriously, look at Jesus’ own life. He offered a world changing legacy with no money, no institution, no facilities, nothing tangible, but with everything spiritual. I think that’s a clue I want to pay attention to.
Proverbs 3:5 says, “With all your heart you must trust the Lord and not your own judgment.” Jesus said, “But more than anything else, put God’s work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well.” (Matthew 6:33) These truths are tough to live out. These realities are vital to live, if all that is vital to us, is to live on.
My new granddaughter, Miah May Harris, was born today (Aug 15, 2012) and what a joy. What a precious gift. I want a future with hope for her and her family. I want a future with possibility for my family and friends. I want... but unless I give everything to God’s control, I know I can’t guarantee that future I want so badly. I know I can’t buy Miah May everything she needs. I know I can’t stop hurricanes. I know I can’t change the course of disease, single handedly change culture, or stop all the little things that can harm. In loving wisdom God’s given me a way to offer a future... Love. Love in Jesus. Love, God’s gift. Love radically lived. Love applied in the neighborhood and with my Extra Grace Required people. And God’s way isn’t tangible, rather it begins in trust. (“The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see.” Hebrews 11:1) It isn’t structures and stuff that leaves a legacy and offers security, rather it’s spirit and surrender.
I want nothing more than to share God’s joyous, freeing, life-giving love. And I’ll admit there’s still some selfish motive on my part. I want Miah May, my family, and my friends to have more because of my legacy. I’m working on my selfishness and trying to hold the old stuff, the material stuff, the things I call “my” stuff, loosely, because really... really, I can’t control them. God does. And God loves me, and you and everyone. And truly, God provides everything, and provides abundantly. (“God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Ephesians 3:20)
So, what are you protecting that’s keeping a world in need from hope, joy, love, wholeness....? What won’t you give up? As a congregation we’re seeking to follow Jesus in a whole new time and culture and I know for me it means giving up many things. How about for you? Is there still something so hard for you to imagine giving up that you’d rather others not know about Jesus, maybe your own grandkids? (or kids or friends...?)
I don’t want to have any barriers to God’s power in my life like that, so I’ll keep praying, working to be honest, and working hard on the things that God has given me to tend. I hope you’ll join me and pray with me. I’ll gladly join you and pray with you, so that God’s fullness can flow through each of us and First Church. In the meantime I’ll work to use Love, spiritual stuff and all else that’s added in, for holy purposes. I’d be ecstatic if you’d join me. Remember, serving God and neighbor with Love makes us “First!” (Mark 10:31)How are you working on your legacy?