By the Rev. Canon Dr. Titus Presler
What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus in the new era that Jesus called the Kingdom of God? Jesus offers a number of perspectives in today’s reading from Luke’s gospel. A disciple builds up the faithfulness of weaker and more vulnerable disciples. A disciple meets repentance with forgiveness. A disciple serves without expecting reward. Alert for signs of God’s realm moving toward consummation, a disciple is prepared to let go of this life in the transition to God’s full glory.
The disciples’ plea, “Increase our faith!” is one any of us might echo. In Jesus’ exaggerated response I learn that faith is not a quantifiable commodity, but a quality of relationship. As we trust, God can do great things through us.
Think about the grateful leper’s identity as a “foreigner” healed by Jesus.Mission means crossing boundaries into communities that feel “foreign” to us. As the foreigner alone returned to give thanks, so we are often blessed by the people to whom we go in mission. They help usgrow in understanding God and ourselves.
The chapters from Deuteronomy offer a fascinating glimpse of the Hebrews’ nation-building in the promised land of Canaan. Underlying the command to destroy cities within Canaan was concern to preserve the new nation’s faithfulness to God. Provisions about boundary markers and rights of first-born children in a polygamous society seem reasonable, and cities of refuge seem creatively merciful. The punishment for rebellious children, by contrast, seems harsh today.
Biblical psalms befriend us by coming alongside and articulating our moods with God. Today the psalmist helps us express the lonely anguish we may feel when beset by people who wish us harm. As we cry out in our suffering, we realize that God holds our lives, and we respond with praise.
Experiment with thinking about faith as trusting relationship rather than as theological belief. How does this affect your spiritual life?
Are there “cities of refuge” in your experience? Have you yourself functioned as a city of refuge for people at odds with each other? Have you ever needed a city of refuge?
Thank you, God, for inviting me to share myself with you. I offer you my trust – and do help me to trust you more. You desire for me more than I can ask or imagine. Help me to trust that this is true, through Christ Jesus the trustworthy savior. Amen.
The Rev. Canon Dr. Titus Presler is Principal of Edwardes College, Peshawar, Pakistan.