It is merely a law of nature that what goes up must eventually come down! Whether that’s the toss of a coin or debris, we once launched into space. I don’t know if you knew this? A telecommunications satellite launched some years ago burnt up in the earth’s atmosphere as it plummeted back to the planet over Russia. Similarly, we talk of give and take, getting out what we are prepared to put in. Certain things just seem to go together. However, there is one pair of words in the Christian life at least – we don’t perhaps associate as much as we should do: ‘coming’ and ‘going.’ We have no trouble with the first; so much of the good news is about coming to Christ, receiving his love, enjoying his presence. How often does that ‘coming’ to him result in a going for him? Too quickly, what we call discipleship becomes a personal and private affair between Jesus and us, faith turned inwards instead of outwards.
Such an understanding, in my opinion, bears little relationship to the statements of Jesus in his ministry. His call involved following him in sacrificial service, going out to proclaim the gospel, and transforming others through the light and love of Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit. Yes, of course, we first need to come to Jesus, for in doing so, we can then find the resources we need to follow his way. Still, if our relationship ends there, we need to scrutinize it, or we may see that it ends in more ways than one.
To paraphrase a famous saying of J F Kennedy’s 1961 inaugural speech as President of the United States, ask not what God can do for you but what you can do for God? Does your response to the love and generosity of God in your life flow out in practical service as well as a personal blessing?
This week I am in the throes of preparing for the annual conference of the Methodist Church in Indiana. I have just finished working through the Celebration of Ministry service. Several people will be commissioned, and some will be ordained into full-time ministries. For these people, the words of the prophet Isaiah will sound again in their lives, for he wrote, “I heard the Lord’s voice saying, ‘Who can I send? Who will go for me?’ I answered, ‘Here I am, send me!’" (Isaiah 6:8) But that call is not just for the ordained or those entering the professional ministry. It is also a call to everyone who follows the teaching of Jesus. We all have a part to play in sharing the good news to a world that so desperately needs to hear it.
Perhaps this can be your prayer this week?
Living God, I have come to you seeking your word and guidance. Now help me go for you in joyful service to work for your kingdom, share your love, and make the gospel known. Through Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen
Shalom to you, my friend.