Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Sent Home

There is some tension between this idea of a faith that must be lived out at home and an understanding of Christianity as a life that we live following Jesus. After all, the Bible says that we are all to be made disciples, and disciples are those who left everything behind to follow when He called. 

As with all things, however, it's just not that simple. 

If we believe that all men are called to be disciples and that discipleship means following Jesus, then we have to wonder why Jesus would send men home at all. If His end goal is that all men would follow Him, then He should never send anyone home. That doesn't make any sense. Or if we believe that discipleship means following Jesus, then we have to wonder what it means that Jesus sent His disciples out on their own, more than once, to do His work. If His end goal is that everyone would just follow Him forever, He would not send them out without Him. That doesn't make any sense. Or if discipleship means following Jesus, then what are we supposed to make of His promise that He is coming back? How can He come back if men are following Him everywhere? He could never have gone, so He cannot come back. That doesn't make any sense.

And let's be honest - following Jesus around doesn't really take care of our faith problem or our troubles. It's tempting for the blind man to want to follow Jesus in case his blindness returns or for the paraplegic to want to stay close in case his legs fail, but being close to Jesus doesn't really stop us from worrying about these things or even stop them from happening. Just look at the Gospels. Look at how often the disciples are with Jesus and experience trouble and lose their minds. At least twice, they are in their boats and there are waves on the sea, and they get scared, like something terrible is happening. Over and over again, when faced with the troubles of this world that are common to men, we see that being near Jesus is no guarantee. Stuff still happens. We still freak. It's what we do.

Clearly, there are some problems with this concept we have that we are just supposed to spend our lives following Jesus around.

That's why it's good that we've got these examples of Jesus sending men home. It gives us another way to think about things.

Because most of us, we're living life at home. Most of us have been sent to live in a place that is familiar to us, but we have to learn to live here in light of Jesus. We have to learn, as the blind men did, to live with eyes wide open. We have to learn, as the paraplegic, to stand on sturdy legs. We have to learn, as the demon-possessed, to live unafraid. We have to learn, as every man and woman that Jesus ever sent home, how to live in the place Jesus has sent us to without losing the echo of the voice of Christ that has spoken into our lives.

It's complicated. We can't pretend that it's not complicated. But it's also holy, and we shouldn't pretend that it's not holy. 

But here's the truth: in all His earthly life, in thirty-three years, in three years of earthly ministry, in hundreds of miles around the region of Galilee, Jesus only told fourrteen men to follow Him (the twelve disciples, one unnamed man, plus the rich young ruler); everyone else, He sent home. We all think we want this glamorous disciple life, this coveted calling to go where God goes, to do what God does, to hear what God says, to be near to God at all times, but the truth is that most of us are sent home. Most of us come, encounter the Christ, fall in love with Him, are healed by His wounds, are accepted by His sacrifice, are filled with His mercy and grace...and are sent home. 

And that's what we're called to do - we are called to be sent.

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