"Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it." - Matthew 10:24-39
Doug Theurner, the late Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, once observed that everywhere Jesus went, people tried to kill him; but everywhere he went, people served him tea. This worried him. He wondered why most Christians are such good insurance risks.
Jesus says that his disciples will eventually have to pay the cost of discipleship. But paying that cost is not something you just wake up one morning and do. It requires preparation. The saints who met the great challenges of their age with sacrificial courage practiced for it every day of their lives.
We think of those saints as the heroic few, but many more people than we imagine are willing to lose their lives in order to find them. They sit in the pews of our churches longing to be challenged by something that's worth their whole lives, and wanting to learn how to sacrifice for it.
But too often the Christian life is presented as something fairly undemanding, worthy of little serious effort, not really important enough to be costly. No one summons those willing folks to give what they long to give. More importantly, no one teaches them the practices of relinquishment, resistance, patience, and perseverance needed to be ready for the challenge when it comes. It's not even clear if anyone understands why someone might want to learn.
Thankfully, in your church it's different. Isn't it?
Move us, Holy Spirit, to practice for the day discipleship asks everything of us. Help our churches become communities of summons and learning, practice, and hope, so that when the time comes, we will be ready.
Mary Luti is Interim Senior Pastor, Wellesley Village Church, Wellesley, Massachusetts.