Published on October 11th, 2019 | by Stephen Barrington0
The cost of following Jesus, Luke 9:57-62 by Buckshot
Nga mihi maioha e hoa ma, whaia atu tonu ki te ara o Ihu. Rangimarie ki a koutou katoa. Greetings friends, peace be with you as you continue in the path of Jesus.
Today our gospel text is Luke 9:57-62. Some words about foxes having holes, the dead burying their dead, putting our hands to a plough and not looking back. Ka whakahaere mua tonu – continue going forwards is the call of Jesus today.
Last week Nigel introduced the beginning of Luke 9 for us and reminded us of our call, of our being sent by Jesus to bring healing and good news. Over the week as we have read the whole chapter there has been questions about Jesus, miracles, arguements after Jesus announced he must die, inhospitable villages and people. A mixed beg of successes and real hardship.
For nearly 35 years I have followed this itinerant carpenter preacher from the back blocks of Palestine. I have moved a few miles geographically and light years socially, theologically, philosophically and in my understanding of what being sent by Jesus means. As I have gone on following there has been hardship – but plenty of joy, celebration, solidarity and friendship to keep my eyes on the road ahead.
A constant benchmark for me, and us all, in how we determine what course to take at important crossroads along the way is – does this choice, this option show love for God and for my neighbour. This litmus test is never going to give us easy answers or actions to take. It is not for the faint hearted or fickle to take up a plough with Jesus. Of course there are many times I have failed to love my neighbour or God with the options I have chosen – thankfully we follow a gracious and kind God who calls us on, calls us back to our feet and invites us to continue to bring that healing and wholeness, salvation as we go on.
There is a big issue confronting us all right now – my daughter visited some villages in Fiji recently where they are no longer able to grow food in their soil as it is contaminated by salt. Caused by rising sea levels invading the water table. Other places inhabited by mostly our poorer neighbours are slowly sinking into the sea as our glaciers melt and the sea warms. People are really suffering, even becoming refugees due to these changes in our world.
How we respond to this reality is a test of our discipleship, an expression of how we will love God and our neighbour who is suffering right now. Jesus was part of creating this whole place, it was created good – yet at the moment our earth that provides our food, water and oxygen could become a very bad place for all life, not just humanity.
Greta has highlighted this reality for us again over the last year or so, but many others have been doing this for decades now, long before she was born. Will we run back to our fox holes again, to our nests, to our dead or are we brave enough, are we courageous enough to put our ‘hands to the plough’ and walk with Jesus to see his healing come to our home and our neighbours.
Those of us in Squad will remember our late teacher and leader, Smithy, stressing to us that to get the meaning of any Bible passage we must read it with ‘third world eyes’ and look for what is ‘good news for the poor’. These ideas are very challenging for me – I am a middle aged white man living with significant privilege. The call of Jesus to love my neighbour is very intimidating at the moment as I wrestle with my ‘carbon footprint’. I really enjoy riding my harley and the sound it makes – but the science is telling me that is not helping my neighbour at all! Especially my neighbour in Bangladesh or Kiribati…….
Whatever we think of climate change, global warming and the way they are brought about we must engage in seeking solutions. We must as followers of Jesus search for ways to treat our neighbours better – what good is it to say ‘my thoughts and prayers are with you’ when we know we can actually do real things to change the state of the climate and our environment.
Jesus called us last week to go and be good news, to bring healing to all the villages. This week, after some misadventures and upsets he calls us again to step up, to keep walking forwards with him and grapple with the new and bigger issues in front of us.
May we be found faithfully loving God and our neighbour, pressing through the hardship and discovering the joy of community, the hope of solidarity and the creativity of God’s Kingdom. Now is the time for the children of God to be revealed and known by their love.
Buckshot – Wellington chapter, New Zealand