Our texts today comes from 1 Kings 19, Galatians 5, and Luke 9.
All our texts are about discipleship whether its the call into, the challenges of, or the importance of stick with discipleship. We live in a time when people may say ‘I consider myself to be Christian and believe in Christ’, yet their lives don’t mirror the teachings of Christ. And increasingly, the world is demanding ‘don’t tell me your a Christian, but show me’. That is discipleship.
We live in a time when we are expected to take your lives, divide it up, and to neatly organize it OCD labeled boxes. One box may be “Religion” where we keep our beliefs and our practices and where we try to confine God, Godself. Other boxes may be “Family and Friends”, “Work”, “Politics”, and “Play”, but as convenient as that may seem when we do that our boxes seem to be in tension with one another. We seem to be two-faced, hypocrites, and unauthentic.
I am currently reading a book by a Sociologist of Religion and an Episcopalian, Diana Butler Bass’ Christianity after Religion: The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening. She’s addressing the well documented decline in the institution of the Church and I am intrigued by a notion that the questions being asked have changed and the Church is increasingly unable to answer those questions. Generations of past asked the question ‘what’ and current generations are asking ‘how’.
So, what is a Christian? One who has been baptized, one who is partaking in Holy Communion, and one who attends worship.
How do we live into our Christian discipleship? Well, it might include this checklist but it is not confined to it.
And that brings about another question about who has the authority or the ability to guide us into that discipleship?
In generations past, by default, it went to religious leaders who were educated and trained in and ordained as Reverends and Priests and Pastors.
And what we see now is the authority are those who have taken those OCD boxes, opened them up, dumped them out and are authentically living out their discipleship in their muddled mess of who they are. They are the ones that are not only talking the talk, but they’re walking the walking, and practicing what they preach.
And this transition may not be as new as we want to think that it is. It may actually be a return to the oldest and earliest roots of Christianity, before the established Church. When the disciples find themselves, without Christ in the world, wondering how to stay faithful to his teachings and his legacy; and asking who is the best one or the best ones to guide them in that discipleship.
So, it reminds me to a statement attributed to Saint Frances of Assisi: ‘Proclaim the Gospel at all times, when necessary use words’.
I pray that we, as individuals, as a community, as a world, dive more deeply into these questions and more authentically live out our discipleship in the muddled mess of all that we are in such a way that we proclaim the Gospel with our actions and not just with our words alone. Amen.
Scriptures: 1 Kings 19: 15-16, 19-21, Galatians 5:1, 13-25, and Luke 9: 51-62.
Originally Preached on 26 June 2016.