Christian author Brenda Goodline tells of a friend who decided that her four year old son was ready to hear about Jesus. She carefully explained who Jesus is and what Jesus did for us on the cross. She also explained what it meant to follow Jesus and become his disciple. Then she asked her son, “Benji, would you like to have Jesus in your heart?” Benji rolled his blue eyes and answered seriously, “No, I don’t think I want the responsibility.”
While we may not agree with Benji’s answer, at least we can appreciate his understanding of what is involved in following Jesus. While most folk hear the invitation to Christian faith as all gift and no task, which Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace,” Benji figured out, even at his young age, that this business of the cross holds some serious obligations for us also if we are to walk in the way of Jesus.
Of course, today, it is more the case that people shy away from as much responsibility as possible, seeing the bulk of life’s expectations as burdens intended to rob them of joy. What they fail to understand is that when we give ourselves to something that truly matters, such commitment actually generates life instead of depriving us of it. Unfortunately, this lack of understanding betrays the massive immaturity that exists in our present day in all segments of society, including the church! Little wonder that we Christians haven’t made as much Kingdom progress as we are capable of making in the power of the Holy Spirit when we have disciples who view their calling as more burden than blessing.
That’s why our present worship focus these Sundays after Easter points us in the direction of what the Risen Jesus aims to do through us once we open our lives to his resurrection presence. As the old saying goes, “Jesus has no body but yours, no hands, no feet on earth but yours” (Teresa of Avila, “Christ Has No Body”). If you don’t own your responsibility to reflect Jesus’ presence in the place to which he has called you, then who will?
Being the presence of Christ is indeed a great responsibility. But when we own it, we find the power that is necessary to live up to Jesus’ expectation; and, more importantly, we feel the joy that comes from knowing that our witness matters, which makes our entire life count for more than we might have ever thought possible.
“Rise up; this matter is in your hands. We will support you, so take courage and do it” (Ezra 10:4).