Matthew 8:18-22

Now when Jesus saw great crowds around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. A scribe then approached and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Another of his disciples said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” Matthew 8:18-22

Our congregation is an interesting place compared to many other Lutheran congregations. Every Sunday we worship God in both English and Mandarin Chinese. Our Chinese members came to Houston to do scientific research, to teach, to work in the oil industry. Some first came to Faith to study English as a second language. Most will eventually return to China but some will seek to stay. While they are here they are discovering Christianity and finding their place in Christian community. It is a real blessing to be a part of this.

Across the world, particularly among refugees, more and more Muslims are converting to Christianity. Their reasons are varied. These new Christians are breathing new life into congregations, particularly in Europe. Skeptics argue that people are just looking for the benefits of congregational generosity, or seeking to raise the odds of eventually making it to the United States. Personally, I trust that Jesus always is present everywhere but particularly among the lost, the marginalized, and the suffering. I believe that the Holy Spirit creates Christian community and I am grateful that millions of people find hope, health, and healing as they trust that good news that Jesus is for them.

What we often fail to notice in this is the price that is paid. While China is officially increasingly tolerant of Christianity, it is still a Communist country. Those who come to faith and are baptized run the risk of losing their jobs, their privileges, even their freedoms. Those who come to faith in traditional Muslim countries, even among refugee communities, run the risk of violence or ostracism from their families and their tribes. They pay a high price for faith.

How about the rest of us? Born into the Christian faith. Baptized as infants. Free to attend worship or free to just stay home. Free to support the ministries of our congregations with our time, our talents, and our money, or free to just know that we have our name on a church roll, a nice place prepared for our weddings or our funerals. What price do we pay? What sacrifices do we make?

A scribe, a lawyer trained in the laws of Judaism, approaches Jesus with an eager willingness to follow him. “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” If Jesus was only interested in growing the number of his followers he might have been more welcoming. Instead, Jesus challenges him. It is easy to say “I’ll follow you” but it is hard to actually do it. Hard on a daily basis. Hard because following Jesus means walking a narrow path, a counter-cultural path. It is a path of rejection and suffering.

You can’t birth a new world without birthing pains.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, you have called us by name and marked us with your cross. Give us the willingness to follow you on a daily basis, even when our discipleship costs us time, money, or challenges us to rethink our deeply held convictions and opinions. Even when our faith challenges us to change our behaviors and takes us beyond our comfort zones. We pray for new converts to our faith, for their safety, their continued growth, their witness to all. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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5 Responses to “Matthew 8:18-22”

  1. Marlys Says:

    As we are challenged daily in our faith, we need to encourage each other to stand up for our faith and trust in the Lord. Family and friends challenge us in our devotion to following Jesus.
    Thank you for helping us to stay strong.

  2. Gloria Smith-Rockhold Says:

    Thanks for the reminder that we are “lucky” Christians, being born into Christian families, baptized as children or babies, brought to Sunday School, confirmation, marriages and finally the great send-off. Our lives as Christians are easy compared to those of refugees who come to the faith in spite of ostracism, danger, and threats. I pray for all refugees who undergo lives outside of our understanding. Be with them.

    Thanks be to God.

  3. Carolee Groux Says:

    I agree about many of us coming into our faith so easily by way of infant baptism. It is what we know and are familiar with; our Christian faith we take for granted. Now for those people from predominantly Buddhist or Muslim countries who convert to Christianity they have a much more difficult time practicing their faith. However we too need to stay strong in our faith because outside influences can weaken our reserve, drag us down and lead us astray. We pray that we can stay strong as disciples of Christ. Help us to continue to follow our Lord and Savior in the paths of righteousness, and to encourage others to do the same.

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  5. Matthew 8:18-22 – The Nazarene’s Commentary: Two Would-be Followers | Belgian Biblestudents - Belgische Bijbelstudenten Says:

    […] Matthew 8:18-22 […]

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