Jesus wasn't messing around. He was committed. Convicted. Hand-to-the-plow (with no looking back).
In Luke's Gospel, he leads the disciples, correcting them and showing them what he means when he says "follow me."
(That's what this "being a Christian" adventure is all about, right?)
First, he shows us how to be intentional about the direction we're taking. He "sets his face" to Jerusalem. And, there's some trouble along the way--some Samaritans who won't welcome him in.
Having noticed that Jesus seems to be connected to a God who's pretty powerful, they suggest a little vengeance--some fire from heaven to destroy those un-hospitable Samaritans.
But that's not what Jesus wants. He's got other plans.
As he goes on, more folks want to follow him, as soon as they take care of some things. Things that sound reasonable. Jesus has time for none of that.
Following him means giving up everything: security, family, home.
I wonder what holds us back from really following Jesus today?
And, speaking of security, family and home (a list that sounds a lot like "mom and apple pie" to me), our celebration of July 4 is approaching. A good time to think about freedom.
Paul had some good things to say about freedom in his letter to the Galatians. (You can skip all those verses about circumcision and worse.) For Paul, we are called to a freedom that makes us slaves. This is peculiar.
This is not "go to the desert for the weekend" freedom like we have here in San Diego, full of things that make us (alone) happy and get us out of the sight of any law-enforcing authorities. This is a strange freedom that lures us to choose our own bondage.
A preacher I heard this past week (Phil Lawson, to be particular) suggested that the opposite of slavery isn't freedom, but community. This is big. Slavery is oppression. It's sinful relationship in which one has power over another. Community, in contrast, demands dignity for all who are a part of it. This feels more like the kind of freedom Paul must have meant--not freedom to do whatever they heck we want, but the freedom to choose to belong in a community that values others.
I think that's the kind of freedom I'm excited about celebrating and working for this year.