I once overheard the following from a woman in a restaurant. “I would like the Eggs Benedict, but I don’t really like ham, so if you wouldn’t mind, I think I would like sausage instead; and could you fry the eggs instead of poach them? I don’t like runny yolks. Oh, and please don’t put any of the yellow sauce on top. I really don’t care for that.” The waitress helpfully suggested, “If you just want to order the sausage and eggs with an English muffin, it is almost two dollars cheaper.” Indignantly, the woman informed the waitress, “If I wanted sausage and eggs, I would order sausage and eggs. I want Eggs Benedict!”
I sometimes think we approach our faith the same way. We know that we are called to be obedient to God and to imitate Jesus Christ, but we want to do it on our own terms. Certainly, we know it is important to worship and pray—when we have the time and it is convenient. We know giving is part of our commitment—but we aren’t sure we want to commit to a set amount. And as for Christian service and witness—well, we are glad our church takes care of that for us.
Not everyone feels or acts this way, but many people who call themselves Christian have a faith practice that is passive or even idle. Paul warns of a complacent and convenient Christian faith. This is a Christianity of substitutions, taking what Jesus taught and modifying it to fit our desires and comfort level. But obedience to God is active. Christian discipleship demands engagement and effort. Perhaps the greatest challenge in our “have it my way” culture is to learn to want it God’s way.
Teach us, Lord, to pray (and mean) as Jesus taught: “Your will be done, on earth as in heaven” (Matt. 6:9). Amen.
This week we read two passages from the prophet Isaiah. In the first, God promises a total restoration, a new heaven and a new earth— a theme repeated in Revelation 21. The new Jerusalem will be filled with joy and prosperity. Isaiah 12 offers thanksgiving to God for the gift of salvation. The praise of God will be proclaimed among many nations. In the epistle, Paul chastises a lazy faction among the Thessalonians. This passage has been misapplied as teaching against providing assistance to the poor, but Paul’s target is not the poor; it is those who can provide for themselves but fail to do so because they say they are too focused on waiting for Jesus. In Luke, Jesus foretells future turmoil for Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans.
Read Isaiah 65:17-25. How can you play a part in Isaiah’s vision for God’s people? When do you have to accept that only God can usher in this vision? How do you know the difference between these two situations?
Read Isaiah 12. How can your words be life-changing for others?
Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13. Who has mentored you in the faith? How has their guidance helped you grow?
Read Luke 21:5-19. How do you speak the truth of Jesus to those who say the end is near?
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