Now large crowds were traveling with him; and he turned and said to them, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not carry the cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand? If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace. So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.
What a shock! How does this fit with the God of love, having life and living it abundantly, honouring your mother and father, and loving your neighbour? How do we hear this as a follower of Jesus? If we focused on Jesus’ teaching and call to us, where would be our focus? What would we value most? What does it mean within our family of God?
In ancient times, family, position in society and possessions gave security and a place in community. It was paramount to identity. This would have been confronting. It is to us today.
Letting go of what seems most valuable (position, possessions, a permanent family connection) is never easy. Following the Way of Jesus calls us to stand up to injustice, speak out against corrupt rules and laws, hospitably welcome the abandoned, the vulnerable and the unwanted, challenging our own ‘security’ in so many ways. In our church family, naming and taking action against abuse, violence, and misconduct, while protecting, releasing from harm and supporting the vulnerable, is what Jesus calls us to do – even if it is confronting and shattering within our family, the very place we thought we had security.
Costly to us in one way. Life giving, peace-making and freeing in another.
Disturbing discipleship, with life giving ministry and service.
As we enter National Child Protection Week 4th – 10th September, let us continue to take action against abuse and misconduct, recalling Jesus’ call to disturbing discipleship.
Give us courage, O God,
to release those captive
to violence and abuse
from within our family.
Give us strength, Brother Jesus,
to reject rules and ways
that bend our thinking
from living your Way of just truth.
Give us clear vision, Gentle Spirit,
to see the vulnerable and hurting,
and, to broken hearts and shattered trust,
offer healing, compassion and hope.
For as your people, God’s family,
our sense of belonging need not stop us
from being your people of justice and love.
With a sword of truth,
slice through the strings that bind us
to the earthly security that brings damage to others.
With the shield of love,
help us provide shelter and protection
so that no Child of God need be injured by our family’s ways.
May it be so. Amen
© Rev Anne Hewitt 31/08/2022
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