Jul 09

Discipleship 101: The Call of Love

He calls to us. “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.” Will we yield to his call? Will we cross over the wall we have built between him and us? He has come to us eagerly, longingly, leaping on the mountains, bounding over hills: noble, graceful, delighted with us, yearning for us. Not content to wait for us to show up at his doorstep, he has come to our house, he has peered in through our windows, and, seeing that we are still here, he has cried to us, “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.” There’s no recklessness in his call; he comes to us with abandon, but he also knows it is the right season for love: winter is past, flowers bloom, figs ripen, cultivated vines show their blossoms. Creation plays peacock while our Lord prances to meet us, but we wait to hear his voice. Will we shy away, or will we embrace his transport and delight? Continue reading

Jun 26

Discipleship 101: Cross Examen-ation

I’m not sure about you, but the words from Jesus this morning were not the ones I wanted to hear. I am tired of talk of division, whether in the church or in our society or in our world. I desperately want peace, not a sword. And in the wrong hands I fear that this passage will only fuel the problems of extremism, even violent extremism, that I read about every day in headlines and on Twitter feeds. I doubt I’m the only one who’d rather hear a more reassuring, conciliatory word from Christ today.

But the sword that divides man against father, daughter against mother, members of the same household against each other, is not the sword of violence and hatred that splits Muslims and Christians, or Democrats and Republicans. In fact, the sword is not a sword at all, as Jesus himself tells us. It is the cross; it is the one crucified upon the cross. And the cross does not set us against our so-called natural relations of kinship and citizenship because it tears us apart, the way our anger and our hatred can do so easily. Instead, the cross divides because the cross confronts. The cross forces a decision from us—from each of us, individually, to be sure, but more importantly from us, together, as the Church of Jesus Christ, as his disciples. The cross confronts us, because the cross tests everything. Everything. Continue reading

Nov 21

The Kingdom Commission

In Luke’s gospel, the two of the last sentences uttered by Jesus from the cross are undeserved words of mercy. For the soldiers who have nailed him to the tree and the leaders who have conspired against him and mocked him, Jesus prays for forgiveness: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And for the criminal—villain, really, is what the Greek word means—Jesus promises, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” His whole life Jesus has preached good news to the poor, release to the captives, and love for neighbor and enemy alike; here, on the cross, in excruciating agony, Christ remains faithful to his preaching, to the life he has dedicated to the kingdom of God. Mercy is Christ’s final word before death. Mercy is Christ’s word to us this morning. Continue reading

Sep 06

Homeless Discipleship

It’s not just about money. It’s about money, but not just about money. And it’s not just about stuff, either—although it is about stuff. It’s also not just about honor and prestige and merit, as important as those things are, too. Turns out, it’s about everything: money, stuff, honor, status, merit, relationships, family and friends, even life itself. It’s about everything; nothing is left untouched: no allegiance, no loyalty, no close-knit tie, no beloved thing of this world. Discipleship is about everything, because the way of discipleship is the way of the cross.

Continue reading

Jun 06

Galatians: Zeal for Christ

After Jesus, the Apostle Paul is the most central figure in the New Testament. Sure, it’s a distant second—we worship Jesus, not Paul. But through the Holy Spirit Paul has shaped what it means to be a follower of Jesus more than anyone after Christ. And one of the most important ways Paul shows us how to be a Christian is by pointing to his own life as an example or even as proof of whatever he wants to tell Christ’s church. Continue reading