Sunday, June 2, 2013

"Follow Me:" A Simple Decision, Not an Easy One

I've quoted these lyrics before (May 24, 2011):
"By the light of burning martyrs, Christ, Thy bleeding feet we track...."
(Once to Every Man and Nation; Lyrics by James R. Low­ell, in the Bos­ton Cour­i­er, De­cem­ber 11, 1845. Music by Thom­as J. Will­iams)

Love and Other Radical Ideas

Saying that we should love God and love our neighbors sounds nice. (Matthew 22:36-40)

Saying that loving God and neighbors applies to everybody, even foreigners and criminals: that doesn't always go over too well.

Suggest that loving the sinner but hating the sin means not hating homosexuals, folks in the other political party, or the bum next door? you'll probably get a chilly response, at best.

I've sometimes wished that more folks would take God, love, and reason seriously. It would be nice to get praise and perks from the 'right sort' for repeating what Jesus said. But on the other hand: do I really want their approval?

No Problems? That's a Problem

"Pope: when Christians lack difficulties, 'something is wrong' "
Kevin Jones, CNA/EWTN News (May 28, 2013)

"Faithful Christians will always face difficulties, said Pope Francis on Tuesday, warning that a worldly, career-based approach to faith avoids the suffering and persecution inherent in following Christ.

" 'Many Christians, tempted by the spirit of the world, think that following Jesus is good because it can become a career, they can get ahead,' the Pope said.

" 'When a Christian has no difficulties in life - when everything is fine, everything is beautiful - something is wrong.'

"He suggested this temptation is common for a Christian who is 'a great friend of the spirit of the world, of worldliness.'

"You cannot remove the cross from the path of Jesus, it is always there,' he added...."
What Francis talked about isn't 'jerks for Jesus' stuff, where evangelical teams go around using the Bible as a blunt instrument.

We're expected to spread the news: Jesus stopped being dead; we should love God and our neighbors; we have hope. The last orders my Lord gave before leaving were to "... make disciples of all nations ... teaching them to observe all that I have commanded...." (Matthew 28:19-20)

Folks who like the status quo typically don't respond favorably to the sort of unconditional love that Jesus teaches. We're supposed to love them anyway.

Following Jesus

Every day I have choices: follow Jesus, or not. It's a simple decision but not an easy one, I fail to make the right choice too often, and that's another topic.

It doesn't help that turning away from the path often feels good, in the short term. More topics.

Here's what Francis said about priorities and goals:
"...'Following Jesus is just that: going with him out of love, behind him: on the same journey, the same path. And the spirit of the world will not tolerate this and what will make us suffer, but suffering as Jesus did,' he said.

" 'Let us ask for this grace: to follow Jesus in the way that he has revealed to us and that he has taught us. This is beautiful, because he never leaves us alone. Never! He is always with us. So be it.'"
(Kevin Jones, CNA/EWTN News)
Jesus said "follow me."1 Then my Lord marched through Hell.

I think I can put up with a spot of unpleasantness now and then.

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