By: Dr. Todd Renner
Co-Pastor, Whites Chapel UMC
“The reward for work well done is the opportunity to do more.”
– Jonas Salk –
One day, Jesus told a parable: “‘Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’” (Luke 17:7-10)
Such is the life of the disciple. There are no parades, no statues. People will not cheer or applaud for us as we go about our daily lives of ordinary holiness. Nor should we want them to, for our obedience in solely for an audience of One. We do not pursue this life for the acclaim of others; we choose it for the glory of God alone. We do what we’re supposed to do, not for merit or praise or recognition; we, humble servants, do what we’re supposed to do because we’ve been ordered to do it. And our reward? The opportunity to serve more. The opportunity to give more. The opportunity to suffer more.
It’s that faithful, selfless, unflagging, unwavering obedience to which the true life of faith calls us. That is the price of discipleship: laying down whatever is in our hands and picking up a cross. Every moment of every day, we must choose the harder path; we must choose the more rugged road. And the world will not understand. It’s incapable of understanding. And it will mock us and heckle us; it will try its best to distract us – to lure us away from climbing Golgotha’s hill.
It’s a tempting offer, to be sure. Avoid the pain. Avoid the ugliness. Take the easy way: forgiveness without repentance, conversion without confession, discipleship without discipline (as Bonhoeffer shared). It’s seductive, yes; but it’s all a lie. There is no shortcut to this all-consuming, all-fulfilling life with God. It is only forged in the fiercest refining fires of self-examination and confession: us confessing, both, our sinfulness and God’s faithfulness. That’s how disciples are made. For inasmuch as grace is free, it costs us everything.
Dearest Lord, in becoming like us, You invited us to become like You – wholly focused and holy empowered for the work of your Kingdom. Forgive us for those times when we have failed. Forgive us for our dabblings along the broad path, for the shortcuts and long breaks that we’ve taken. And change us. Make us willing to do whatever it takes to Magnify You and You alone. By the power of your Holy Spirit, form in us humble hearts and steady hands that might be used for the glory of your name…for it is in that name that we pray. Amen.
February 19th, 2021 – Waco, TX – 9:00-3:30
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