Discipleship: Rejection and Wrath

I know Jesus’ words last week were harsh and hard to hear or listen to, but I do need to do a short recap for the connection to our texts today. These scriptures demonstrate the difference between the intention of Christianity and what it has become.

Christianity is the only world religion where we can be identified as a ‘believer’ without necessarily being an ‘adherent’ or ‘practitioner’.

Christians are identified as such by our profession alone that Jesus is our Christ, Messiah, and Savior. Denominational Christians are identified by the additional teachings they profess. These do not require specific rituals, spiritual practices, or moral code by which a person lives their life as such with non-Christian adherents/practitioners.

But, this profession of Christian faith with or without denominational affiliation should not be enough. We are called deeper into discipleship and to be ‘practitioners’.

Our texts from these Sundays, teach us about discipleship, or walking in Jesus’ steps.

Last Sunday, we were reminded that God’s grace is a free gift we cannot earn or lose by our own efforts. Paul reminded us, however, to not become intoxicated on said grace and its freedom. Elijah and Jesus reminded us that the proper response to said grace is sacrificial and costly, calling us deeper into our baptismal agreement:

  • to proclaim Christ in word and deed;
  • to seek justice;
  • to act with compassion and mercy; and
  • to love and serve all people.

Last Sunday, we heard Jesus rebuke James and John because they were angry that a Samaritan town rejected Jesus, and let us be honest rejected them as well. James and John suggest calling down the wrath of God as fire from heaven to destroy the town and all its people.

Perhaps, James and John were dramatic.

But, this morning, Jesus sends the disciples out in pairs to share the gospel, or good news, of Jesus, his teachings, and his miracles. Jesus also gives theses disciples the ability to perform miracles. These disciples question Jesus about how to respond to rejection, which echoes James and John suggesting to call down the heaven-fire.

Admittedly, we have all experienced rejection. I have known rejection in my life from school bullies, to friends and significant others, and my own blood relation. How are we to deal with said rejection?

Jesus tells them to shake the dust from their feet and continue down the road to the next town.

It seems similar to “let go, let God”, but it isn’t that easy for us humans.

So, I relate well to Thomas Rhett’s song ‘Beer with Jesus”

If I could have a beer with Jesus
heaven knows I’d sip it nice and slow
I’d try to pick a place that ain’t too crowded
or gladly go wherever he wants to go.

You can bet I’d order up a couple tall ones
tell the waitress put ‘em on my tab
I’d be sure to let him do the talkin’
careful when I got the chance to ask

How’d you turn the other cheek
to save a sorry soul like me?
Do you hear the prayers I send?
What happens when life ends?
and when you think you’re comin’ back again?
I’d tell everyone, but no one would believe it
if I could have a beer with Jesus.

How do we turn the other cheek?
How do we shake off the dust from our feet and continue?

Honestly, I do not know. Wrath (or anger) is the ‘deadly sin’ that I am most guilty.

But, I do know that anger, frustration, the pain of rejection, and withholding forgiveness of another is a heavy burden to carry on our journey.

I do know it prevents our experience of living life to the fullest and in the present moment.

I do know it prevents our growth into the people God has, is, and will continue to call us to be.

Paul reminds us in Galatians that simply professing a belief in Jesus is not responding appropriately to God’s grace. The proper response is costly, it is sharing the load of our burdens, it is ‘out-doing’ one another in love, never growing weary of doing good, and becoming a new creation as we follow in the steps and example of Jesus. This is discipleship.

But, I do not know how to teach you to shake the dust from your feet or to turn the other cheek, because I am failure in that category.

But, I do know that it is a heavy burden we are not called to carry, especially to carry it alone.

May we seek to walk in Jesus’ steps.

May we learn to leave our burdens at the cross.

May we be empowered to turn the other check.

May we have the courage to shake the dust from our feet.

May we embrace the challenge of our baptismal agreement and
never grow weary of doing good.

It all requires the Holy Spirit to work in, among, though, and even despite us…
Come, Holy Spirit, Come. Amen.

Scriptures were Galatians 6: 1-16 and Luke 10: 1-11, 16-20.
Originally preached 7 July 2019 at Trinity Lutheran (Union City, IN).

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