Its hard being a Christian.
As C.S.Lewis once said “I didn’t go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don’t recommend Christianity.”
Because it is hard, being Christian, Christianity adds to the discomfort of life at times, when we are really put in a place where we have to stand up for his calling,
We can no more avoid it than Matthew who was happily in his booth collecting taxes, because when he was called , Levi leaves all that he has – but not because he thinks that he might be doing something worthwhile, but simply for the sake of the call.
As my favourite theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer a man who spoke up against the Nazis to the point of death
He spoke about this discipleship as costly grace, that call being costly sometimes…
Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.
We may comfort ourselves that old Dietrich had a war on and his life was much harder than ours. He had something much more real to rail against.
and of course In many ways of course that’s true, However , we can also say in many ways the world is just as full of forces that wants to and would very much like to derail the voice of love, the voice of loving even our enemies, loving everyone and that force, wants us to stop seeing people as precious children of God, Gods own handiwork, people that are made by, loved by, inside of god and have God inside us, and we are in God, a god that really really loves us and considers us special despite our frailty
As it says in Romans, 7 “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
That’s how precious we are to God, and because of knowing that we have to speak up and say and act like every other person we meet is precious enough to die for. Because our god did just that.
We know we are people that have inherent value in the eyes of God, and that is where our true worth comes from, we don’t belong to countries, or parties, or remain or stay, we belong to God,
we know and openly state in everything we do that is as a result of knowing that , we know that the worlds value system is sometimes very messed up.
We can see all around us there are people who do well from the worlds messed up value system. People with billions while others struggle to make ends meet.
This means dangerous counter cultural message indeed and some really wont want to hear it, if this world suits them.
When people heard Paul speak this message they said it hurt their ears.
A world where footballers earn millions, yet a nurse who risked her life to save us from Covid relies on foodbanks.
We in a life lived as Christians are totally at odds with all of that, we see value in the fact God loves us and values us enough to die, because he created us and lives in us, not what job we do or how many houses we have, or where we come from. So done properly I would say our value system is as much at odds with a the systems of the world as Dietrich’s was.
We are as called as we ever were to remain “salty”.
Remain “salty” what does that mean?
This counter cultural call is what Jesus is about today, he doesn’t want us chopping arms off, hes using rhetoric same way as my dad used to say “mick you little so and so, come here I am going to kill you when I get my hands on you”
I was so hungry I would shoot my granny for dinner…
I am so hungry I could eat a horse!
The French do eat horses, I have yet to be hungry enough to consider it, and I have never shot my granny and my dad never killed me.
This is Jesus in the same mode… what he’s saying is
The daily life of being in Christ and Christ in us is so wonderful, its worth putting up with real discomfort, a thing worth putting up with anything for.
Salt was valuable in Jesus day, same way as we are valuable, things were paid for in salt at times, and salt preserved food before fridges,. Also Salt Heals when I had a operation cut that had just started to turn nasty I was advised a little salt water dabbed each day and it helped me heal, when you have a tooth taken out they advise to gargle with salt water.
So a very valuable thing, that preserves what sustains us, and heals when we need healing.
I would say that’s what jesus is saying, how he sees us, and wants us to remain . Not just valuable, Precious before God, made by him, as a place that he lives in, but messengers of his truth, his People are meant to be a healing thing for our world, that preserves the worth of human life and states it. Here’s the thing even when the world tries to derail us. Today he’s saying stick to it, stay as you are, keep answering my call, because I see it all and every good deed we do as Julian says reverberates around heaven forever and delights out God, in the same as as our childrens good deeds delight us. Stick at it, because everyone that makes us stumble on our calling is seen, and we are seen when we move through the tough or wobbly periods and correct ourselves and point ourselves at him again.
And all that chopping off arms bit that rhetoric saying how much it’s all worth it.
Even when its not easy, even when, the world tries to derail us, even when there are forces opposed to our message, when the world wants to view people as rats, or not our best people they are sending over, or refugee’s or people who will take from us, steal our jobs, fill our country, or even see ourselves as from a country instead of simply from God, we are from Gods kingdom and work for that. People can never be and aren’t the metaphors we reduce them too at times they are gods precious children, every single one of them. Its not easy at times to conquer our fears to accept that we may have done that thing of reducing someone who God loves just as much as me to a concept, something other than gods precious creation. But us we are HIS disciples, and we know better , he is our true north, our compass point, and we may wobble, we may lose our way at times, we may worry about stuff, ive done enough of that for ten people in recent weeks. Bur as long as we pick up our cross and march on again, For the wobbles we have grace and I thank him for that because I wobble a lot , but overall we will have understood what Jesus thinks is to remain salty, a thing that , that is precious to him, that sees everything he made as precious to him, that has him inside us and we inside of him, that he loved enough to die for , we his precious disciples preserve his message, his precious word, the one that heals the world, . Like salt
We are to remain his salt.
and to that I say