Readings for May 13, 2018
The Ascension of the Lord
Ephesians 1:17-23, or
In my own faith journey, I hope to be counted among the disciples of Christ. I seek to follow him, listen to his words, understand his teachings, and live as he has taught me to live.
During his ministry, Jesus had twelve apostles. After Judas’ betrayal and suicide, the remaining eleven chose a replacement, leaving the number of apostles at twelve even after Jesus’ death and resurrection. There were, however, an uncounted number of disciples. Many came and went as the excitement of Jesus ebbed and flowed during his ministry. In a broad sense, a disciple is someone who follows a leader, typically an ideological leader. With that, the apostles were certainly disciples, but only twelve of the disciples were apostles.
Importantly, then, when Jesus told his disciples, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature,” he was commanding many to carry out this ministry. He is talking to me still today to do the same. The world is a big place. Fortunately, I, as Jesus’ disciple, am not alone in this ministry. I am also not excused from it. Through the Holy Spirit, I have been bestowed with certain gifts from my Creator and it is up to me to use those gifts “for building up the body of Christ.”
Jesus inspired great numbers of people, but he didn’t organize a rally or have his apostles run ahead to the next town placing fliers on posts, or engaging in social media, or seeking crowd funding, or anything else that we may have at our disposal today to spread the gospel message quickly and efficiently. Instead, Jesus took a more personal approach. He met people where they were at—a beggar, a Pharisee, a tax collector, a woman in need of healing—and then he did three things. First, he loved them unconditionally. He saw people for more than their sins, he listened to them, and he gave his time to those who felt they had been outcast. Second, he gave them instructions on how to live. He delivered his word to them, and taught them to practice the faith. And third, and most importantly, he let them live.
Since Jesus has so commanded, I must preach the good news to the world. It’s my turn, so here goes.
World, I love you. There are many things that happen in this world that I do not agree with, that sadden me, but I will not define you by your mistakes. I will listen to you and take notice of you. I will be here with you and pray for you on this shared journey toward our salvation.
World, Jesus is the good news. Believe so that you may be saved. God’s immeasurable love was poured out for us in human form. He taught of love and condemned egoism. He gave us an example of putting others’ needs first. All the factionalism, all the specific-to-a-gnat’s-eye interpretation of every word spoken, all the harsh and self-deflecting human judgement of others’ behavior or beliefs, all the “what’s in it for me?” and all that is contrary to or limiting in love of God or love of neighbor is contrary to the teachings of Jesus. Don’t go there. Rather, show that you believe by living the love that Jesus taught. Beg for guidance from the Holy Spirit. Know your gifts. Use them for God. Then, when you count yourself among the disciples, go and tell others. Tell them in word and, more importantly, tell them in living.
And World, Go! Live! God gave you this life, and I will refrain from the urge to live it for you. Live it with a grateful heart and in accordance with the gifts you have been given.
My God, may I live in a manner worthy of the call I have received through Christ, Your Son. Come Holy Spirit! May my life reflect all humility and gentleness, with patience and love, striving to persevere the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. May my discipleship help bring about one faith and one baptism in the name of One Lord, and may we live in the knowledge of One God, who is over all, through all, and in all. Amen