We Deserve Better, Don’t We? (Twenty-second Ordinary)

Then Jesus went to town on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat;
I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?”
(Matthew 16: 24 – 26)

Who among us hasn’t thought: “I’ve worked so hard, been honest and true, I deserve rest and reward”. That only seems fair and reasonable. Good people deserve good lives – it’s the presupposition of most cultures – and the essence of the Australian dream.

Like Peter, we find it hard to believe that decent people could end in ignominious failure. Who wants to see themselves or their heroes ridiculed and reviled? Peter’s “say it ain’t so, Lord,” is a very human response to such disheartening news.

But Jesus says not only is it so but to think otherwise is the work of the devil. The minute we begin to believe that we are entitled to a life free from sacrifice, we are not thinking as God does – for our God continually offers God’s-self in sacrifice to us. Throughout his years in ministry, Jesus reminds us that true joy and rest come with discipleship – with following God’s way of compassion and justice.

So perhaps it’s time to take stock of your expectations. If you are hoping for your just rewards, you will be sorely disappointed, no matter how much money you make or fame you achieve. If, on the other hand, you are preparing for the many difficult days ahead by strengthening your love and commitment to others and to God, then you have already tapped into your heavenly treasure.

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