Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A Thought for Wednesday 12 August 2015

“From that time [in which Jesus taught that His “flesh is food indeed” and His “blood is drink indeed”] many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more.”  Matthew 6:66

Discipleship is hard.  Following Jesus demands more from us than we are willing to give.  We must also consider the context of this lesson.  Jesus is teaching Jews, whose Law prohibits the consumption of blood, that His “blood is drink indeed” (vs 55).  All geared up for the good stuff, but then this very weird Man says, “Eat Me if you want to live”.  What the … ???

Even after Jesus explains “ It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing.  The words I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.  But there are some of you who do not believe” (vss 63-64).  Yet rather than to draw closer and ask for clarity in their doubts, these many “disciples” turned and walked away.  Why?

We know why.  Whenever we hear something that just does not mesh with what we already believe or what we already think we know, we dismiss it as nonsense – especially when we hear something we don’t like from the pulpit that challenges us to take a closer look!

But no.  My guess is these disciples who “followed Him no more” had shut Him out even before He tried to explain further.  And we are inclined to do that ourselves.  We will listen to another opinion, consider another perspective – but only up to a certain point. 

The reality of discipleship – especially as we continue to grow spiritually – is that our transformation will not be complete in this lifetime.  We are never too old, too smart, too educated, too mature, too “saved” to learn something.  And when it comes to the pursuit of all that is Holy and Perfect in our constant transformation, we must never find a comfortable spot in our opinions and sit still, believing what we have is “good enough”.  And we must never – NEVER – say “No” to Jesus … because He is leading us Home!

We continue to wring our hands at the many who are walking away from the Church.  Some have lost faith in religion in general.  Some have just had it with organized religious power structures.  Many are done with the constant bickering and infighting, but some are also very tired of the “programs” that lack substance and do not feed the soul.  They are starving and are wandering in the wilderness in search of “food and drink” that will sustain them!

Yet there are also the many who walk away for the very reason these disciples chose to “walk with Him no more”.  His lessons just got hard.  Hard to take, hard to hear, hard to envision, and just plain hard to understand.  Surely our Lord knew this when He commissioned the Church to “go and teach and baptize”.  It is why the historic Methodist movement had its power and colossal growth in small prayer and study groups in which everyone was held to accountability and supported in their struggles when discipleship got hard.

We cannot try to make discipleship easier for those who cannot take it.  All we can do is help for as long as help is needed – or until help is rejected.  Only then may we “shake the dust off and move on”.  Until that time let us be mindful that we all need help from time to time.  And we may never fully understand all that is written in the Scripture, but that’s ok.  Because it seems to me that these disciples who walked away did not fail because they did not understand; they failed because they walked away altogether.  And as Peter said to Jesus when asked if he was prepared to walk away as well: “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life” (vs 68).



No comments: