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I was in DC this past week for some meetings with a few national faith leaders. One of the leaders we met with is Pastor Gordon Cosby who has dedicated his life to serving God and loving all of God’s children. He began his ministry journey as a chaplain in WWII and when he returned home he began Church of the Savior. He is noticeably in his last years but that has not complicated his message. Pastor Cosby looked us straight in the eyes, inspiring and challenging us all at the same time, and said “Leading a church that is true to Jesus is the most difficult job in the world.”
This reminds me of our Gospel passage from this past week, Mark 8:27-38. Jesus is talking to a crowd of his disciples and says “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves take up their cross and follow me.” When I read the Gospels I find that following Jesus is both daunting and incredibly life-giving. I believe following the way of Christ is the best possible way to live but I also believe it takes discipline and grace.
As I have been reflecting on what it means to follow the way of Christ it has lead me to more honesty about the ways things are not equal in society. I’ve been thinking about Jesus consistent privileging of the poor and I’ve been wondering what it means for me to privilege the poor in my life in New York City and in the life of a denomination. I think the words of Mark 8 teach us something about denying our privileges so that “every valley shall be exalted” (Isaiah 40:4-5). This is a call that leads me to self-reflection, prayerful confession, and different choices that honor all of God’s children.
Some of the choices I have been reevaluating include:
- My cultural addictions that lead me to have more than my portion. Things like an overabundance of clothing and food come to mind. What would it look like if we consciously chose less so that others could have their fair share?
- Daily choosing relationships that welcome the teaching and friendships from those who are poor. Choosing to let those who come to the soup kitchen I oversee be my teachers. In other words, crossing boundaries helps cure my arrogance.
Following Jesus requires authentic, deliberate choices….daily.
I think Pastor Cosby is correct; remaining true to Jesus is the most difficult job in the world. May God be gracious to you and to me as we follow the way of Christ and seriously consider the words of Jesus and the prophet Isaiah.