October 17, 2015 5:02 PM
Subject: The Great Exodus -You’re Not Trapped
By Jocelynn Smith, Sr. Managing Editor
Expatriation used to be a dirty word to Americans.
Who would consider leaving “the best country in the world”? But people are giving up their citizenship at seemingly ever-increasing rates. In 2014, 3,415 people gave up their American citizenship, beating the previous record set in 2013 of 2,999. We’re on a similar pace for 2015 even after the fees were lifted by the State Department.
And why not consider other options? The Land of the Free has become a place where the government no longer respects the will of the people, privacy has been destroyed, our police have been militarized against us, and the rule of law has largely been trampled.
So what to do! What to do!
The above reminds me of the church sermon today:
SILVER AND GOLD – What I Have I Give to You
By God’s grace I often find myself in the presence of people dealing with the consequences of their own or other people’s sin. Every sin of thought, word, action, or omission painfully affects other people, for sin’s underlying purpose is to destroy, enslave, or manipulate others in order to impress people in a world undisciplined by the Gospel. Those who repent of their sins recognize the enormity of sin’s consequences, and in my experience the suffering caused to me by another’s sin is inconsequential compared to the pain of seeing how my sin has hurt someone else.
All three of today’s readings deal with the costly price of liberating people from sin’s effects in all its tragic complexity. The first reading from Isaiah is about the sufferings of the Hebrew people throughout the ages, particularly for their own sin of infidelity to the Mosaic covenant. The experience of the suffering servant in Isaiah’s song is a reminder that the price of liberation is bloodshed – of the prophets, of martyrs, and ultimately of Jesus, the preeminent Suffering Servant.
Today’s short message from Hebrews is that Jesus, Himself, had no privileged way of redeeming humanity from the tragic consequences of sin. Though He was God incarnate. He did not by-pass the price to be paid but confronted the horror of evil in the world in genuine human weakness. The writer of Hebrews wishes to encourage believers, warning them against he temptation to settle for something less than total personal consecration and commitment. Jesus’ followers must remember that Jesus, himself, sacrificed everything to liberate people from evil. He did not exercise His divinity so He could escape paying the price of His own blood to set people free.
The Gospel reading also reminds us of the disciple’s need for total surrender to Jesus, difficult as it is. When we ourselves struggle to surrender to Christ, we stand in the company of the earliest founders of the Church, who quarreled over holding privileged places in Jesus’ Kingdom. Not realizing the great cost of following Jesus, they just wanted to claim the glory of the victory by ruling alongside Him – without the blood and tears of the struggle. Then, as now, Jesus had to teach His disciples to think differently about authority and status. Authentic redeeming transformation does not happen by bullying or making people feel the weight of one’s authority. True authority comes through self-sacrifice – serving others, being a slave, giving one’s life as a ransom.
May each person in America be committed to living and serving God and His people in this world, so we may anticipate being with Him in the next.