Follow Me?

Hither ye behind me! Yep; that’s what Jesus said. Modern translations simply say, “Come follow me.” These words of Jesus were an imperative call to present and continuous action. One Greek Grammar says that Jesus was calling for long-term commitment; to habits suited to such a commitment; a commitment that would cultivate virtue leading to a certain lifestyle. Ignatius, working with this big kingdom idea, taught us to follow Jesus by finding God in all things. He and other spiritual masters knew that this meant we had to engage in practices of noticing, reflecting and discerning; learning to be steadily conscious of God, self and others.  Frank Laubach (Letters by a Modern Mystic), stands in this tradition. He writes that submission is the first and last duty of man; that we are learning to respond to God as a violin responds to the bow of the master.  He says this begins with listening, moves to surrender and finds it best fruit in a determined, resolved will to act with God. The question mark we’ve put at the end of Jesus’ imperative is both invitation and call to decisive action to take serious Jesus’ command to come follow me—and in so doing to find, in Laubach’s words, that every day is tingling with the joy of glorious discovery.

– Todd Hunter​

Ordinary Time Readings: Sunday, July 20

Reading: Genesis 6:5-8, 9-14a, 17-19, 22 and Matthew 24:36-44

  1. Take a few moments to ask God to open your heart to his abiding word, “to see wonders things” (Ps.119:18). As you read, listen intently to the story of Noah. This narrative is more than a Sunday school flannel-graph board or child’s ark and animals play-set. It is a gritty story of an awesome decision God made to destroy humanity while at the same time save a small group of people and the animals for the new beginning again (or future) of the world. What do you find most difficult or challenging about the story? Talk to God about these things. What do you find most encouraging or edifying? Receive from God’s comfort.
  2. From Genesis 6 we discover that God saw all humanity and all that was wicked. What do you suppose God noticed about the corruption? In the same text we discover God saw Noah and that Noah walked with God. What do you suppose God noticed about Noah? What do you suppose Noah noticed about God?
  3. Genesis 6 can be a difficult passage yet there seems to be a glimmer of hope. God’s saving grace. How do you hold tensions between God’s judgment toward wicked humanity and his saving favor as he sent his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to reconcile all humanity to himself in love? Have you experienced ruined in your own life? How has God redeemed, recovered, or utterly done something new in your life or heart? The ruin is a significant aspect of the story God tells about the grace of his saving redemption and new life!
  4. As you conclude your reflections, ponder the sobering words of Jesus in Matthew 24:36-44. How would you want to respond to God in these moments? What needs examined in your heart and life? What might need to change? What might need to be fostered or nurtured in your heart and/or life? Respond to God.

Ordinary Time Readings: Sunday, July 13

Reading: Genesis 4:1-16 and Matthew 18:21-33

We’ve exited Eden. The journey of humanity begins with a trajectory of choices and temptations: to return to God in relational dependence for life and sheltering love or to live autonomously making our own way in the world. The narrative of Cain and Abel evocatively showcases the challenges humanity faces. It can be a difficult Scripture passage to understand. The nuances of the Hebrew language punctuates the attitudes in which the brothers’ offerings to God were made rather than the kind of sacrifice offered.  They both offered to God but Abel’s was regarded while Cain’s was not. Abel’s was from the firstborn, of their fat portions suggesting the best Abel had to offer and with the intent to please God.   Cain’s offering, on the other hand implied an offering out of duty. The significance was the intent of the heart. The discourse between God and Cain invites us to explore our intentions, emotions, temptations toward sin and the course of actions toward God and others. We live in a web of relationships. Some connections are broken, twisted, deformed or deforming due to sin; while others  seem to be life-giving and beautiful. As you spend time reflecting on God’s word, ask for the grace to live your life as a reconciler with an increasing ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor.5:18).

  1. Notice what challenges you or what resonates with you as you read Genesis 4:1-16. What do you observe about Cain, Abel, or God?  Are there any admonitions, invitations or encouragements for you from the story?
  2. Knowing you are in the presence of God who loves you completely and seeks relational intimacy with you without condemnation; explore your own heart. Is there any sense of a prevailing attitude, emotion (like anger against God or another) that may breed sinful actions if left unattended? God comes to Cain with questions about his heart, state of emotions, relationship with his brother and offers him words of wisdom. What might God be asking you?
  3. Reconciliation, either with God or another, includes a series of concrete choices and actions toward wholeness: self-awareness, confession, making amends with another. Notice Cain’s choices and course of action (Gen. 4:16 – he settled in the land of Nod, which means wandering). Is there a need to make amends with someone? With God? Talk to God about these things.
  4. What does Jesus’ instruction in Matt.18:21-33 say to you? If you sense your own need, consider how you, as a disciple of Christ, might creatively to rule over sin. (Gen.4:7) If you desire help with this aspect of discipleship, ask a spiritual friend for help; talk a pastor or spiritual director; ask the prayer team to pray with you after a Sunday service.