Monday, September 3, 2012

Monday in Pentecost, Proper 17: The true freedom of radical discipleship

Opening Sentence
I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the Lord." Psalm 122:1

All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name

Commemoration: Nikolai Grundtvig
Almighty God, we praise you for the men and women you have sent to call the Church to its tasks and renew its life, such as your servant Nikolai Grundtvig. Raise up in our own day teachers and prophets inspired by your Spirit, whose voices will give strength to your Church and proclaim the reality of your kingdom; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Psalter: Psalm 25

Lessons: Job 12:1-6, 13-25; Acts 11:19-30; John 8:21-32

Jesus wanted no part of those who followed him for the wrong reasons. His words captivated many, but that captivation--as the readings in the next few days bear out--would soon turn to offense. At this point in his ministry, Jesus was not so much gathering his flock as he was thinning the herd.

Not everyone could accept Jesus's words, least of all the dyed in the wool Jews who thought they were God's people simply by virtue of their birth. They would take offense when Jesus said, "If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." So, too, would anyone whose idea of freedom was based on external factors. Jesus spoke "the truth" because he was the truth incarnate. To know the truth is to know Jesus; and to know Jesus is to be truly free.

This truth is equally difficult for us to accept today because it implies that every other choice we make is rooted not in freedom, but in slavery. When we choose to follow after the world, we are not choosing of our own free will, but under compulsion. Apart from Christ, we are not free to make our own decisions. We are only compelled to think and act as slaves of sin; as children of the devil. We cannot receive Jesus's words because they expose the deception under which we have been living; the folly of living in bondage while thinking we are free.

Jesus calls us out of that bondage, out of that deception, and into the true freedom of radical discipleship. It is a freedom which we cannot accept without first recognizing the truth about ourselves. We are in bondage to sin, and we can only be set free by the liberating word of God through Jesus Christ and the power of the Spirit.


Set My Spirit Free