6 April, Wednesday – On Discipleship

Wednesday of the 5th Week of Lent

Dan 3:14-20,24-25,28
John 8:31-42

“If you make my word your home, you will indeed be my disciples…”

The thing about being authentic to something is that at some point, your convictions will be tested. It’s only when you are put under duress that you discover the true nature of your hearts and the strength of your faith. In the gospel reading today, Jesus warns the Jews that it is not enough to be something ‘in name’ when they protest that as ‘descendants of Abraham’ they are free. You have to be authentic in spirit as well, to be faithful to the principles you profess.

At Thanksgiving each year, our parish puts on an event called the ‘Family 2 Family’ charity at our church. Parishioners adopt a family over the holiday season and put together gift bags and grocery hampers for them. What started out with good intent though, has over the years, morphed into something resembling a contest. The receiving families have started to compare their gifts and begun to ask for more complicated presents – electronics goods, expensive shoes, fancy bikes. Meanwhile, the giving families try to outdo one another, with more and more lavish presents. Somewhere along the way, the whole thing turned into a competition of ‘conspicuous giving and receiving’ – and that has ruined the spirit of it.

I recall a wish-list from a few years back as part of this, which looked like something a spoiled, unsupervised child might have put together. I felt irritation, annoyance and frustration – with myself for being so ungenerous, with the organising committee for allowing it to get to this, with the church for not policing the organisers better. And then I wondered, what is the correct Christian response to this? Protest? Walk away and find somewhere else to serve? Suck it up and go along with it? What happens when as believers, we become disillusioned with the decisions of our church leaders? I just don’t know. I DO know that I’m helping no one by feeling angry and resentful over this.

Anger and resentment have no place in Christian discipleship. How do I fix this? How do I fix me? Is it even my place to fix things? The gospel of Luke says, that “blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance” (Luke 8:15). I’m sure setting up the early church would have been an incredibly frustrating affair. Along the way, there would have been plenty of those who would have thrown their hands up and walked away. Perhaps running the good race requires the mental grit and toughnesss of a marathon runner, so that we can truly say at the end, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).

(Today’s OXYGEN by Sharon Soo)

Prayer: We pray for the grace, patience and endurance that we too might run a good race.

Thanksgiving: We give thanks to those who persevere in His service, who are able to look beyond the setbacks to a higher cause and a better good.

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