In the eleventh century, King Henry III of Bavaria grew tired of court life and the pressures of being a monarch. He made application to Prior Richard at a local monastery, asking to be accepted as a contemplative and spend the rest of his life in the monastery. “Your Majesty,” said Prior Richard, “do you understand that the pledge here is one of obedience? That will be hard because you have been a king.”
“I understand,” said Henry. “The rest of my life I will be obedient to you, as Christ leads you.”
“Then I will tell you what to do,” said Prior Richard. “Go back to your throne and serve faithfully in the place where God has put you.” When King Henry died, a statement was written: “The King learned to rule by being obedient.”
Henry didn’t want to be obedient, he wanted to run. Obedience is a heavy word. The “O” word brings with it a chill of negativity. To be obedient is to surrender our freedom. We have been trained that individual freedom is the most important right we will ever possess. The concept of leading by being obedient seems to be contradictory. We lead by telling others to obey us. This concept is so difficult; we just want to run. Indeed, to run as far away as we can.
How many times have you wanted to just run away or bury your head in the sand? Life throws some tough times at us all. There are so many challenges that lead us to believe running (dropping out) is the best option. When we tire of our roles and responsibilities, it helps to remember God has planted us in a certain place and told us to be a good accountant or teacher or mother or father. God expects us to be faithful and obedient to the task where He puts us.
We usually see everything through our own egocentric agenda. Our preoccupation is “How will this inconvenience me.” or “How will this make me feel?” That doesn’t get us very far. We then twist reality so we can feel good.
—-Richard Rohr from Everything Belongs
How often do you twist reality for the sake of your feelings? Such twisting usually involves your need to feel justified or fulfilled in one obligation or another. John the Baptist said: “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” The real tricky word in John’s advice is anyone. All of us have someone with whom we are willing to share all that we have. That’s where our agendas come out.
Most of us are taught from a very early age that we are to be responsible and productive. Such teachings and the behavior they produce are very good. The real problem surfaces when we begin to evaluate the worthiness of the recipient of our good will. We don’t want to be inconvenienced or made to feel bad by one of “those” people.
As a result we make excuses and justify our behavior, usually with a spiritual agenda. Something like Proverbs 12:11, “Those who work their land will have plenty to eat, but those who engage in empty pursuits have no sense.” How easy it is to turn your back on the poor ,when you can say the Bible tells us that they have no sense. That verse and so many others come from a larger context of spiritual knowledge that can feed our souls with abundant wisdom. When taken alone, however, they feed our egocentric behavior and act as excuses to neglect our ministry to the less fortunate. Be careful not to twist reality to meet your needs.
Lord help me not to be so self centered as to make up spiritual realities that really serve as idols to me. Rather teach me to be genuine and open to your message. Let each day be a challenge to me. Allow your word to be my strength. May I never flee from a task because it would inconvenience me. Amen
The prophet tells us : “And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?” In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.” (Luke 3:10-11) The crowd was speaking to John the Baptist about how they would live the Missional life. They were confused and waiting for the Rabbis to tell them what to do. Perhaps Synagogue’s Missions Committee would set up a program so that they could “plug In”. Instead John said: JUST DO IT !
What should we do ? Do as the prophet said two thousand years ago. Share as you go, give your personal property away to those who are in need, live a life of simply caring about others. Caring becomes a way of life and the first thing you know it will be better to give than to receive.
OK, some action suggestions:
Give something of your own to a person in need.
Give food or help to a homeless person (it doesn’t matter WHY they are homeless).
Give a smile or a kind word to a stranger.
- Pick up some trash in your neighborhood–just because.
- Volunteer at a park,zoo or hospital.
- Become a mentor for a child.
These are just a few ways that you can just do something Missional this week. The message -DON’T WAIT- just do it !
- Jesus’ public life begins with His baptism at the hands John the Baptist.
- Although sinless, Jesus chooses to identify Himself with the repentant sinners who flocked to baptism.
- Before embarking upon His ministry, Jesus withdraws to the desert for a 40-day period of fasting.
- The coming of God’s Kingdom means the destruction of the devil’s dominion over this world.
- Jesus now goes forth to preach the “good news” of the coming of the Kingdom.
- Jesus backed up His words with mighty miracles that inspired belief in Him.
- Jesus gathers people to Himself, and this is the begining of the Kingdom of God.
- Jesus emphasizes that everyone is called to enter the Kingdom. He reaches out to the poor, the marginalized and sinners.
- In a very special way, the Kingdom belongs to the poor, lowly, humble of heart, those who know that they need God.
- Jesus often illustrated His teaching by means of parables,and these stories call us to radical discipleship.
Live Your Faith
Rather than viewing the Gospels strictly as mini-biographies of Jesus, we should instead use our imagination to put ourselves into the stories.
Which people resonate the most with me? What would it be like to watch Jesus preach or perform a miracle?