Sunday, 3 July 2016

Go out into the world

In last week's blog I spoke about how attractive the comforts of home are and how we are called out of that comfort.  This week we see Luke's gospel telling the story of those who are sent out to proclaim the kingdom of God (Lk. 10.1-18) with Paul reminding us that we should 'never tire of doing good' (Gal. 6.9).  So how much dis-comfort are we to take on board to spread God's reign in our time and in our communities?  What does this mean for our own faith journey? Can we answer God's call on our lives to minister to God's people?

I cannot break away from this constant call within myself that tells me I have to change.  I do not want to continually talk about the subject but every time I come to the readings in Scripture I see this constant call upon my life that nags at my core each day.  If we are to think about this we actually realise that this is what we are about every single day of our lives.  I do not mean biologically, although this is also true, but in my attitudes and my working habits.  If I think back, maybe ten twelve years my thinking and my doing have changed.  I have not necessarily noticed that change, except during times of stress, but they have become a natural part of me.  I am sure that all of you have found the same if you were to stop and think about it.  All of us have accepted those incremental changes in our lives.  However, when it comes to a sudden imposition upon our lives change becomes a threat and something to be resisted.

A monument to a 'living-dead' language.
Are we as guilty, building dead monuments to a living God?

The disciples in Luke's gospel have been travelling with Christ and are now thrust out into the world on their own.  They have had the comfort of being with the 'Christ' and are now called upon to fulfill the mission he has given to them,  Not only that but they are asked to go into the world with nothing.  Considering the world that they were going into this was a monumental task and one of so much risk in its undertaking that we would not countenance it today.  They were asked not to take money.  Can you imagine going out to Cambodia or Palestine with no spending money?  Surely this is a crutch that we so often need yet Christ asks of his disciples this impossibility? Why?  They were asked to go without any form of decent footwear.  Can you imagine yourself wandering around Perth or Sydney with nothing on your feet?  We can dream up all the horrors of stepping in dung, catching worms, bruised and bleeding feet from scratches and stones. Why?  They are sent out without any form of protection against robbers or thugs, like lambs amongst wolves.  Can you imagine going into an area where there are known thieves and bandits, just waiting for the poor gullible fool without any protection?  Why?  Then of course they are sent without any plans for shelter or food but solely dependent on the hospitality of the people.  Just, imagine planning your next holiday with nowhere to stay and with no food in your car and on top of that with no money.  Why?

To be honest I don't know but perhaps it is a question of going out in faith knowing that God is right there beside us.  Even in the most dire circumstances if we were but to look around we will find God.  We too often are scared of change because we cannot imagine beyond our past and deny our present and yet our present is in constant flux bringing us into a changed reality that is beyond our past.  We create our own problems by predicting our future based on our past experience and by not living in the present.  We con ourselves into believing that we cannot commune with God because things around us have changed but the reality is that unlike the disciples who went out two by two into a dangerous culture without anything, we wish to remain in our ark and not find God in the present.  I will always remember my parents exasperation with the Afrikaans community when they visited the Taal monument in Paarl.  They said 'How can you have a monument to a language, unless that language is dead?'  How can we fear our circumstances and change if we worship a living God?

Naaman wanted something complex so that he knew he was being cured by God, not something simple and easy.  We want to retain our complexities that have become accretions to our worship and understanding of God over time.  We are offered the simple but refuse to believe that this will lead us to God.  Our belief is centred in the complex and accretions of time but our faith is to be found when we can embrace the simple in our lives enabling us to see the change that occurs at every point of our present.  A living change occurs when we start to do good in the lives of those around us.  Change occurs when we focus our lives in God not on idols.  Change happens whether we want it or not.  Change enables us to see God in the present rather than the past and in the constant waiting for the future.  The Kingdom of God is here, not in the future, not in the past but here in the present.

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