Sunday, 28 October 2012

JOB- Suffering and how to speak to God


 
 
Job is a book of wisdom. Job is like a long parable, almost a fairy tale. Once upon a time there was a man named Job, and he was the greatest man who lived in the land. Job is blameless. He lived in a big house, on lots of land, with a big family, and many possessions.  Job loves God and turns away from evil. And God, like a proud parent, richly blesses Job with family and property. Job is a good, good, good man.

          God even brags about Job to the Satan, which means “the accuser” or the “adversary”. He's a bit like a legal prosecutor against humanity. Satan looks at Job and tells God, “Ya, he’s good, but what happens if you take away his toys? He’s only good because you bless him at every opportunity- Of course he’s going to be good. But, what happens when the blessing stops? What happens when you take away his reward for being so good and faithful? Do you think he would still be good? I doubt it. In fact I think he would curse you right to your face.”
          There are few things I like more than giving my two boys something they love. I love the way they jump up and down when I’m giving them candy. When Zander was potty training he loved M&Ms, and so we used them to reward good behavior. He cleaned up his toys faster if he knew there was an M&M in store for him. However, if we reward him with an M&M for every good thing he did, what would he do when he knows that there are no more M&M’s? Would he still do what is right without a reward? Would he still follow our directions out of love for us, and not love for the reward?

          This is Satan’s question for Job. "How do you know Job really loves you, or the blessings you give him? Do you really still think he would be faithful and good if there were no reward?"

          God trusts in Job’s faith, and believes that Job will still love him, and that he will still be good without all the rewards. The Father trusts that his child will still be good even if there are no more M&Ms. So God allows Satan to take away Job’s blessings. There is an awful, horrible catastrophe that not only destroys his possessions, but his children as well. Job is heart broken, but he will not turn on God. Satan doesn’t stop there. Next he inflicts Job with painful sores all over his body. Job sits on an ash pile with a piece of broken pottery scratching at his skin trying to get some glimmer of relief from his suffering.

          Job stands as a representative of all humanity and is tested without knowing it- Can a human being love God without being rewarded? Can a human being do what is right when there is no personal benefit?

          Job’s friends sit with him in mourning for seven days without saying anything, ... but then they try to help him understand what is happening. Surely God wouldn’t allow this suffering to happen for no reason, so they start to come up with reasons that God would allow suffering like this.  Maybe Job is being punished for some awful secret sin. We know God is good, so the blame much be with Job. He must have done something to deserve his suffering.

          We know differently. This is not the case with Job. Job hasn't done anything to deserve this suffering. Actually, he is the best human being on the planet. There is no skeleton in his closet that would call for such suffering.  Job knows he has done nothing to deserve this. Job’s friends are trying to help, so they push him to expose the secret sin and ask forgiveness, but they are really only making things worse.

          Job sits with his friends among the ashes, oblivious to the causes of his suffering, but deeply wants to know “why”. And this is the Job that everyone of us relates to at some point in our life. Why is this happening? We endure some kind of tragedy, or illness, or we lose a loved one, and we want to know why? Is this some cruel joke? Could there possibly be any point or reason for it? How could a loving and all-powerful God allow this to happen?   
          The book of Job rests in the tension between two questions. On the one hand, we have Satan’s question, “Can people love God without being showered with blessings?” Satan is saying that people will only love God and be good if there is a reward. Without blessings of property and family, and protection from pain and suffering people will not love God and be good.
          On the other hand, we hear Job’s question- “Is it right for God to let those who love him suffer?” How can God, who is good and all-powerful, watch one of his children who loves Him, suffer and not do something about it?

          The book of Job rests in this tension. And out of this tension arises a third question. In this mystery of undeserved suffering, how do we speak of God? How do we speak to God? Throughout the book, Job expresses his anger to God. He expresses his questions and demands answers, but he never curses God. He never turns his back on God. In fact, he’s the only human in the book who speaks directly to God. The friends philosophize and try to fit God and the situation into some kind of box, but Job brings his pain to God, and Job is angry. Job does not give up. He maintains his gaze on God in his suffering. He holds onto God even when his theology seems to fall apart. The friends continue to accuse Job and say that he is the cause of his suffering. And Job continues to cry out to God asking for an explanation because he knows he hasn’t done anything to deserve the loss of his possessions, family, and his health.    

          In the end, after everyone has had their turn speaking, God shows up in a whirlwind. And God questions Job about the creation. To Job’s questioning of God, God asks Job about the mysteries of creation. God asks Job about two creatures of chaos- Behemoth and Leviathan. These are God’s creatures, but who cause destruction. Job is dumbstruck, “See, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and I will not answer; twice, but will proceed no further.” 

          Job has a mystical encounter with God. Previously he had heard of God, but now he sees God. And in seeing God and hearing his response, Job is transformed, but is also left speechless. His time for crying out in anger at God has ended when he encounters his Creator face to face. He realizes how much he doesn’t understand, and can only respond with silence.             

          God then turns from Job, and expresses his anger towards Job’s friends, “My wrath is kindled against you … ; for you have not spoken of me what is right, as my servant Job has.” These are Job's friends who were trying to defend God with their theology, but really they put more suffering on Job. God then asks the friends to ask Job to pray for them. Job prays for his friends, and God blesses Job once again with family and doubles the wealth he had before. 

          No answer is given to Job. The reason for his suffering is never given. We will find no easy explanations for our sufferings in this book. What we will find is words to speak to God in our suffering. Job has given us words to speak, and God has said that they are the right words. The friends who attempt to give an explanation for Job’s suffering are in the wrong. Their attempt to reduce Job’s suffering to his own sin, is what angers God. Job’s crying out to God in anger and pain is what God accepts.

          The ending of Job is not about a happily ever after ending, but it is an ending. It is not a naïve return to the beginning of the book where everything is sunshine and kittens. It is about going through the suffering and coming out the other side after wrestling with God. In Job’s life suffering did not have the last word. There was a time when the suffering moved from the forefront of his life. This ending gives hope that there is some goodness that will eventually overwhelm the suffering. Suffering will not have the last word.

          In Job, no explanation for suffering is given. I’m sorry if you are suffering. I’m sorry if you feel like Job right now. I don’t know why these things happen. I don’t know why we suffer. I don’t understand why God allows it to happen. But whatever suffering is about, it seems to be central to what it means to be human.

          Struggling with the loss of his 25 year old son, the Christian philosopher, Nicholas Wolterstorff confesses in his book Lament for a Son, “I cannot fit it all together by saying, ‘[God] did it,’ but neither can I do so by saying, ‘There was nothing [God] could do about it.’ I cannot fit it together at all. I can only, with Job, endure. I do not know why God did not prevent Eric’s death. To live without the answer is precarious. It’s hard to keep one’s footing.” … It’s not that Wolterstorff doesn’t believe he will see his son again, he believes in the resurrection, and he believes his son is with God. He continues, “Eric is gone, here and now he is gone; now I cannot talk with him, now I cannot see him, now I cannot hug him, now I cannot hear of his plans for the future. That is my sorrow. A friend said, ‘Remember, he’s in good hands.’ I was deeply moved. But that reality does not put Eric back in my hands now. That’s my grief. For that grief, what consolation can there be other than having him back?” In the Christian life, “to the ‘why’ of suffering we get no firm answer. Of course some suffering is easily seen to be the result of our sin: war, assault, poverty amidst plenty, the hurtful word. And maybe some is chastisement. But not all. The meaning of the remainder [of suffering] is not told us. It eludes us.” … “Suffering is down at the centre of things, deep down where the meaning is. Suffering is the meaning of our world. For Love is the meaning. And Love suffers. The tears of God are the meaning of history. But the mystery remains. Why isn’t Love-without-suffering the meaning of things? Why is suffering-Love the meaning? Why does God endure his suffering? Why does he not at once relieve his agony by relieving ours?”

          There are no answers to Wolterstorff’s questions that we can see. And he is not interested in easy answers. We dare not speak as Job’s friends have spoke. We dare not give easy answers to another’s suffering. The book of Job tells us that this angers God. We cannot tell Wolterstorff that the death of his son Eric is “not really so bad.” (These are his words again) “because it is [bad]. Death is awful, demonic. If you think your task as comforter is to tell me that really, all things considered, it’s not so bad, you do not sit with me in my grief but place yourself off in the distance away from me. Over there, you are of no help. What I need to hear from you is that you recognize how painful it is. I need to hear from you that you are with me in my desperation. To comfort me, you have to come close. Come sit beside me on my mourning bench”. (God, Medicine, and Suffering. Stanley Hauerwas. P 149-151).

          As human beings, at some point in our life, we will sit with Job on the ash heap, and we will have no explanation for our suffering.  We will have well meaning friends say foolish things in the attempt to make us feel better. But there was one who came to join us in our suffering. There was another man who suffered for no sin of his own. Immanuel- God-with-us- The Creator of the universe took on weak, suffering, human flesh and submerged himself in the muddy Jordan River, baptizing himself in all of our pain and sin. The only human being who did not need baptism did not leave anything behind in the river, rather he took on our muck.

          God has not abandoned us in our suffering. He has joined us in our suffering. God does not sit off in the distance watching us suffer. He joins us in all the filth, in the dust and ashes. No explanation is given, but God came to sit with us in our mess. But he will not leave us there. God will not let suffering have the last word in God’s good creation. Jesus will be with us. He will descend into the grave with us, and he will rise with us. Jesus sits with us in our pain and suffering, but he is there to guide us out of our suffering as well. He is there on the other side of our suffering. Life does not end with a cross. God will not let life end with a cross. The cross will lead to resurrection and life that does not end. The cross is horrifying, but the unexpected resurrection overwhelms that suffering and turns the suffering of the cross into a symbol of hope. Jesus says in the Gospel of John, “in this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”                    


Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Healing (Luke 4)


 

 

          Today we are celebrating the feast day of St. Luke. The Church remembers Luke primarily as the author of the 'Gospel according to Luke' and the 'Acts of the Apostles', though these books Luke tells about the earthly life, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus and then in Acts Luke tells how news about Jesus spread all the way to Rome. Luke is also believed to have been a doctor. He was a close friend of Paul's, who called him the "beloved Physician".  Luke was a healer, and writing these books was a part of that.

          When I say "healing" to you, or say that we are having a 'service of healing' there are probably a few images that come to mind. Televangelists like Benny Hinn might come to mind. Someone walks on stage who has previously been confined to a wheelchair, but who is now completely healed. They run around and jump up and down proving to everyone that a miraculous healing has taken place.

          I might surprise you by saying that I believe in that kind of healing. It doesn't mean I believe in everything I see on TV, but I know that sometimes I have seen prayer lead to healing. The danger in this is that sometimes we can become infatuated with this kind of miraculous healing and forget about other ways that God works.

          There was once a man stranded in the ocean after his ship sank. He said to himself, I believe that God will rescue me. After drifting on the water  for a few hours a man in a jet ski came buy and offered him a ride back to shore. The stranded man said, no thank you I believe God will rescue me. A few hours after that a man in a rowboat rowed by and offered the man a ride. The stranded man gave the same answer- No thank you God will rescue me. Then a helicopter came by and dropped a ladder to him. The man gave the same response- No thank you God will save me. Eventually the man drowned and when he came to heaven he asked God why he didn't rescue him. God replied that he had sent the jetski, the rowboat, and the helicopter.

          I have met people who will not take medications because they believe God will heal them. They think that taking medications is a lack of faith, and so they go on suffering and wondering why God isn't doing something. But Just as God sent the Jetski, God also uses the doctor ands the pharmacist to bring healing. God's healing is not in contradiction with medications a doctor might subscribe. Sometimes we can get stuck in believing that God is only going to operate in one way.

          God's healing is bigger than our ability to comprehend it. God is not limited to use a doctor's pill, but neither is God limited to supernatural healings. Ultimately healing is what God is all about. God desires to heal us- mind, body, and spirit. God wants to heal our relationships, and our emotions. God wants to heal our material lack and financial problems. God wants to heal our disconnection to our planet.

          Our own bad choices, the choices of others, and the brokenness of our world perpetuate a cycle of damage. Hurt people hurt others. Sometimes we hurt people without even knowing it. All of this leads to a world that is full of hurt and brokenness. ... God's desire is healing. Ultimately, all healing is God's healing. Sometimes God uses a doctor to bring us healing. Sometimes a Truth from the Bible brings us spiritual healing. Sometimes God uses a counselor to bring emotional healing. And sometimes God uses the supernatural to bring healing. Often it is a combination of things. Prayer for healing is never out of line.   James 5:14 says, " Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord."  There are innumerable methods God uses to heal our various hurts. God can work well beyond the  boundaries we set in our minds.

          Sometimes the healing we need isn't even the healing we want. Sometimes that leads to an unanswered prayer for healing. Jesus' own prayer, for the cup of suffering to be removed from him, was not answered and Jesus was Crucified, but that led to resurrection. Job's healing did not come until long after he wanted it. St. Paul lived with something he called a 'thorn in his flesh', which was not healed. Out of this suffering God can bring healing, which is mysterious and confusing. There are larger purposes at work, and while I refuse to believe that God causes suffering. I do believe that God can bring good out of suffering. St. Paul's Thorn in the flesh might have been to aid his soul's development. He might have learned compassion for those who suffer. His pride might have been healed through his suffering. Even in suffering God can bring about emotional or spiritual healing. Though the methods are many, ultimately that is what God is aiming at. God wants complete healing for the creation.

           

          This is what Jesus was about. When Jesus was in his home town of Nazareth he began his mission with the words of Isaiah:

The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
because he has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to set the oppressed free,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.          

 Jesus comes to bring Good News to those who are financially broken. Jesus brings healing to those who are broken in prison. Jesus comes to heal broken eyes, and spiritual blindness. Jesus comes to help those who are crushed by injustice. Jesus' whole ministry is about healing. It is about healing in all areas of life. What Jesus wants is whole life restoration.

          And that is the mission of the church. Being salt and light in this hurting world is about being a people of healing. We give and serve to join Jesus on his healing mission.      In the church we talk a lot about the mission. We talk a lot about things we should be doing as Christians. And that is all good and necessary, but it is important that we receive that healing ourselves before we participate in God's mission. God's mission has to be done through God's power and grace, and we have to receive it before we can share it. We have to hear the Good News before we can proclaim it.

          Today, I want you to ask yourself where you need healing. Is it emotional? Is there a hurt in your past you need God to help you with? Is there anger or sadness you are having a hard time dealing with? Do you need spiritual healing? Is there someone you need to forgive, but don't feel you have the power to?  Maybe you need physical healing. Maybe you have a health problem that you are continuously struggling with. Whatever kind of healing you need I invite you to focus on that during this service. Receive from God and pray for this to be a place of healing today.   

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Mark 10- St. Francis and Jesus' challenging words


Mark 10:17-31

 The Rich and the Kingdom of God

17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honor your father and mother.’[a]

20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”

21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”

24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is[b] to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”

27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”

29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

Footnotes:

  1. Mark 10:19 Exodus 20:12-16; Deut. 5:16-20
  2. Mark 10:24 Some manuscripts is for those who trust in riches





          I want to talk a little about St. Francis of Assisi, whose feast day was on Oct 4th. St. Francis of Assisi was known for many things. He lived a life of poverty and devoted himself to caring for the sick and poor. His life was marked by simplicity, but also mission and service. He was the first to build a crèche (nativity scene), and the first person on record to receive the stigmata (the supernatural wounds of Christ).  He is especially famous for his intimate relationship with God’s creation, as expressed in his Canticle of the Sun and the many stories about his interactions with animals. He was also, interestingly, never ordained as a priest, and never belonged to a religious order, though, he did found the monastic order that later became the Franciscans.

          When we read about St. Francis it can be hard to believe that he was a real person. It's hard for us to imagine giving everything away and still surviving. But, Francis was a real person. You can go to Assisi and see his tattered and patched robe hanging behind glass. You can see fragments of parchment with his handwriting, and you can stand in the basilica where his body is laid to rest.

          St. Francis was born to a wealthy family in the late 1100's. His father was a cloth merchant and part of the rising merchant class. He originally had a desire to become a knight, but after seeing visions of Christ, his life changed. He was eventually disinherited by his father as a crazy person for attempting to give away his family’s possessions.

          He grew up in a world, much like our own, that is full of all kinds of expectations concerning what it means to live a successful life. If you are wise then you will take over the family business, and start a family so that you can pass on the accumulated wealth. You are to aim at being respected and wealthy- This is wisdom in Francis' world and in our world.  We are not so different in our expectations of what it means to lead a successful life. To be “successful” in our world we need to be highly educated (hopefully that education will get you a good career). We need to have a nice car and a nice house. Dress well, talk on a cell phone a lot. Go on nice holidays. Maybe, appear on television.

          Francis eventually had a vision of Jesus Christ in the Church of San Damiano. He heard Christ speak to him through the image, "Francis, Francis, go and repair My house which, as you can see, is falling into ruins". ... If Francis ever erred, it was in following Christ too literally. ... So immediately he sold a bunch of his father's cloth and gave the money to the priest at the church of San Damiano to help him repair the old church. Francis soon embraced the life of poverty.

          Always inclined towards literal obedience, Francis heard the words of Jesus to the rich young man to sell everything and give it to the poor, and Jesus’ words to his disciples to take no money, no bag, nor two cloaks, nor sandals, nor staff, and Francis embraced the life of extreme poverty. Whenever Francis heard the word of Christ he attempted to obey and follow Jesus as literally as he possibly could.

          One of my favourite movies is "Brother Sun, Sister Moon". It is a movie about St. Francis. People I show it to usually have two reactions when they see it. They either love it and watching the movie becomes a kind of spiritual experience in itself, or they tend to think that Francis is insane. People don't really tend to land anywhere in the middle. I think this reaction is appropriate because His life was similar. People either recognized something of God in him, or they thought he was crazy. But this was and is many people's reactions to Jesus as well. 

          Jesus teaches us to love our enemies and to do good to those who hate us. He teaches that we should turn the other cheek when struck. When we are forced to carry a load for one mile against our will, we should carry it two miles. He hung out with those who any respectable person would avoid.  Instead of massing a guerrilla force to fight the Romans he allowed them to do their worst by crucifying him. People either loved him or thought he was crazy or dangerous. He asked people to do strange things. 

          Christopher Hitchens, one of the leaders of the New Atheists, who recently died, once said “Love your enemy?!” “No philosophy is more suicidal than this. We must destroy our enemy! Fortunately, everyone in America agreed the enemy must be destroyed after 9/11.” (http://christopherhitchenswatch.blogspot.com).

          The things Jesus says just don't seem to make sense to the normal way we go about in the world, so we try to find ways to get around them. The Danish Philosopher Soren Kierkegaard once said, (prepare yourself, this has teeth):

The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world?

          Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament.

I don’t think I would go as far as Kierkegaard (I respect many Christian scholars), but I think I know what he is saying. We can spend so much time and effort arguing about what Jesus said that we are left with no time to obey it. We especially want to argue when we disagree with something Jesus said.

          The German Theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, said something similar. He refers Mark 10 where Jesus tells the young man to go and sell all he has and give it away to the poor and then to go and follow Jesus, which is our gospel passage today. In referring to the way in which we try to wiggle out of obeying the command to follow him he says,

"But we should probably argue thus: 'of course we are meant to take the call of Jesus [to leave everything and follow him] with 'absolute seriousness', but after all the true way of obedience would be to continue all the more in our present occupations, to stay with our families, and serve him there in a spirit of true inward detachment'. If Jesus  challenged us with the command: 'Get out of it', we should  take him to mean: 'stay where you are, but cultivate that inward  detachment.' ... Perhaps Jesus would say to us: 'Whosoever smiteth thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.' We should then suppose him to mean: 'the way really to love your enemy is to fight him hard and hit him back.' ... All along the line we are trying to evade the obligation of single-minded, literal obedience."

          "When orders are issued in other spheres of life there is no doubt whatever of their meaning. If a father sends his child to bed, the boy knows at once what he has to do. But suppose he has picked up a smattering of pseudo-theology. In that case he would argue more or less like this: 'Father tells me to go to bed, but he really means that I am tired, and he does not want me to be tired. I can overcome my tiredness just as well if I go out and play. Therefore though my father tells me to go to bed, he really means: 'Go out and play'." (p89-90- cost of discipleship).

 

                 Francis, if he ever erred, it was in following Christ’s commands as literally as possible. If we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that's Jesus words are sometimes is too challenging. It scares most of us to imagine following Jesus completely and fully. If we take the Gospels seriously, we do have to admit that Jesus told at least one person to literally sell everything and follow him. Francis took that word to apply to him as well. Francis heard the words of Jesus and said "I think he really meant what he said" and he heard it directed to him personally. What if you were the young man? His wealth stood between him and God? How would you respond to Jesus' words? ... It feels to hard.  I'm not expecting us to give everything away, neither was Francis, but I also don't want us to ignore the teachings of Christ just because they are hard or because they are fashionable. We have to find our way in the midst of that tension. Sometimes following Jesus is hard, and sometimes it look like foolishness.  

          But Jesus also says this is an easy yoke and a light burden. How can the extreme poverty of Francis be an easy yoke and a light burden? Jesus also calls us to take up our cross. How can that possibly be a light burden, and an easy yoke?

          One anonymous ancient Church father puts it this way, “The weight of earthly masters gradually destroys the strength of their servants, but the weight of Christ rather helps the one who bears it, because we do not bear grace; grace bears us. It is not for us to help grace, but rather grace has been given to aid us.”

          Anyone who looks at the life of Francis knows that one of the marks of his life was joy. I think if we asked Francis, he would tell us that he took off the heavy yoke when he took off the expectations of his parents and his culture of him becoming a wealthy cloth merchant. As painful and as impossible as it seems to worldly eyes, Francis led a joy-filled life embracing the literal directions of Jesus.

          It doesn’t make sense to the world, but Jesus said this was knowledge hidden from the wise and intelligent. The wise and intelligent of this world just didn’t get it. So who got it? Children, fishermen, sinners and tax collectors. Perhaps it shouldn’t make sense in terms of conventional wisdom. Francis seemed crazy to the people of His town. But maybe it is the world that is crazy. Jesus came and told us that the world is upside down, and so to the world, Jesus and his followers look upside down. 

            So let’s live the upside down life. Let’s lead a life that doesn’t make sense to the world’s upside down understanding. Let’s follow Jesus’ call to us to love God and our neighbours, even in an extreme way. Perhaps we should toss away our anger, abandon lust, let our ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ and our ‘no’ be ‘no’, turn the other cheek, give to those who ask, and love our enemies with abandon. It doesn’t make sense to the world, but it is beautiful. Lets’ throw away the world’s ideas of “success” and listen to Jesus’ words to follow him. Let’s see if that path leads to joy, or to a heavy yoke. Let’s see if it leads to ridiculous nonsense or to a face to face encounter with the living Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

          Hear Christ’s invitation to you Matt 11:28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”                  

 

 
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