Who do we leave behind?
Each week through Lent I will provide one or two devotional reflections to continue the thoughts of that week’s theme. This week as the first part of our Hitchhiking with Jesus series we reflected on the Call to Discipleship as dropping nets (Matthew 5) and Jesus’ redefinition of who was his mother and brothers / his rejection by his hometown (Matthew 12:46-50 and 13:54-59) and consider the question, “Who do we leave behind?”
(If you missed the sermon and wish to watch it you can do so here.)
“What a relief it must have been when the stone was rolled across the entrance to the tomb, sealing everything shut so they could go back to being fishermen, which they knew how to do, rather than fishers of men, which they didn’t.” — Richard Russo, Empire Falls
(quote compliments of Jill Reardon who texted it to me after Sunday’s sermon)
I remember being asked once about discomfort, was it necessary to move outside of our comfort zones in the journey of discipleship. My answer? Yes. Of course, there is more I’d say than just yes. Jesus rarely is reducible to simple answers. Jesus relieves us of anxiety born of shame and guilt. Jesus forgives sin and builds up (sometimes literally lifts up) those who have been cast aside. In this sense, Jesus brings comfort to those who lack it.
But Jesus also unsettles us. Jesus breaks us out of routines that normalize injustice, he questions systems of power that dehumanize some on behalf of others and generally invites us to “pick up our cross” as a perpetuate journey in not becoming passive and comfortable to a status quo that is “less than” the Kingdom of God.
As we think of last week’s texts about Jesus leaving his family and his struggles to be a prophet in his hometown that could not get over him being “the carpenter’s son” we are confronted with our own need to name what we need to leave behind in our journey of discipleship. If we are going to hitchhike with Jesus what fears, comforts, and habits keep us from being able to do that?
The answers may be hard, and the commitment to imagine life beyond those “ways” that have always worked for us is discomforting… but they also lead us to new life – because this is the way of the cross. This is the way of sealed tombs that become empty. This is the way of Jesus Christ.
We leave our self behind (both our own distorted self and the image of self the world has forced us to carry) to find our new self in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Who are you leaving behind?