13 Pentecost

Ex. 3:1-15 [Jer. 15:15-20]
Ps. 105:1-6, 23-26, 45c [Ps. 26:1-8]
Rom. 12:9-21
Matt. 16:21-28

We want to survive. Every fiber of our being cries out for life and recoils at real or imagined danger. We fear those who may harm us, evils that may engulf us, wrongs that may demean us. We are afraid, and we seek protection, emotional, and physical. We ingest opinions we already hold to reinforce our convictions and to calm our nerves, though also to excite our sense of being right. We consider the best means of protecting our person, family, and property. We purchase security systems, put bars on our windows, and buy guns. We keep watch. Who knows when the thief may come? We want to survive, and yet we are miserable. “Those who want to save their life will lose it” (Matt. 16:25).

Imagine a very well protected life. Imagine more than enough money, a safe place to live, professional success, well-adjusted adult children, and a retirement dream. Settled in a 50+ community, surrounded by people of a similar demographic, enjoying amenities and services in a gated paradise. One could live as if every day were Saturday and every night Friday night. It is possible, of course, to leave such a place occasionally to do some good in the world, but it is designed to be self-enclosed. Once, I was visiting a family member who lived in a gated retirement community. A woman there, whom I knew for all of thirty seconds, looked at me and said, “I am bored out of my mind.” Indeed. Life can be wasted amid toys, endless entertainment, and alcohol.

There is a better way. Life is short; time is running out — show me the number of my days. Jesus Christ gave his life as a free offering, a ransom for many. He died for the ungodly, forgave his betrayers, and rose from the dead as the first fruits of a new creation. He lives even now, and when we give our lives to him, lose ourselves in him, we find the source of our being and the purpose and goal of our life. We are, like him, sent out to give ourselves for the life of the world. It is a better way, and some rules help define it.

“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, extend hospitality to strangers” (Rom. 12:9-13). The love which Christ has for you, he pours out upon all, and so your returning love must extend to all. Learn to seek peace. “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. … Do not repay evil with evil. … Never avenge yourself” (Rom. 12:14-19). Let your emotions be supple, wise, alert, and responsive. “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15).

This better way would be impossible if it drew upon human resources alone. It does not. The love of God has been poured into our hearts by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit, that is, the Fire of God, ignites our lives like the fire that danced through the branches of the bush on Mount Horeb. “The bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed” (Ex. 3:2). We too are ablaze with the Fire of God, and from the power this of fire we live, and yet we are not consumed. We each remain ourselves, the unique person Christ has created and called and sent.

Look It Up: Matt. 16:25-25

Think About It: Christ is your life. Lose yourself in him.