Friday, September 01 2023
This week’s Gospel reading contains one of the most famous of Christian imperatives, “take up our cross and follow him.” The snippet from Paul also contains a list of imperatives. Our love is to be genuine, hate what is evil, give good hospitality, bless those who persecute us, be humble in thought and, what seems like an impossible task nowadays, live in harmony with one another. Human nature is so complex and much psychologized these days, that it never seems to remind us how broken we are. One of the great hypocrisies of modern Christian life is the downplaying of the sinfulness of our human nature while also thinking that science and what is so fashionably called “progress” will save us from our ills. But Christian faith rests in the knowledge that Jesus Christ has completed the work of reconciling God’s love and grace to us, which is sufficient to get us through all our ills.
Of course, I don’t mean to sound like praying can simply heal us physically! Much of modern medicine and technology is well and good (though not above critique and miracles do happen), but at the core of who we are, as both spiritual and physical beings, we need both spiritual and physical help. Christians offer the world in the fullest way both, by offering the Gospel to the world. God is using us to help the world learn how to love, care, and seek truth. We cannot do these things on our own; we need God’s help. The self-denial that Jesus calls for is the sacrifice that we proclaim: not our own way, Lord, not our own will, which will always be imperfect, but thy will, which is always perfect. Everyone’s “cross” will look different, but it is the same in that we are allowing ourselves to be led by God and His will for us and for the world. But the world, in its imperfection and self-interestedness, does not like this and may well persecute us for it but we keep on loving like Christ loves us.
Yours in Christ,