Will you follow

Mark 8:27-38

Today we have the hardest lesson Mark has to teach us. So far we have been following Jesus around the countryside. Things have happened like healing people, raising a girl from death, calming storms, and teaching every time the Pharisees ask a question because they are searching for a strict follower of the law. Today we have the confession of who Jesus is and we begin to think the disciples, especially Peter finally get it. Jesus then teaches how he must suffer and die. This is not the Messiah the disciples, especially Peter is expecting. To tell the truth this really isn't the Messiah we would expect either.

What are the expectations for us of a Messiah? How do we tell what is being a true disciple of Christ? Look at what happened to Jesus. He lived simply, traveling around healing people others would not touch, talking to people others would not talk to, and telling the Pharisees time and again that the letter of the law, God's law is not important. What is important is taking up our cross and following him, well where does this bring us?

We have some soul searching to do. Yesterday I read an article in which the headline stated Missouri ranks second in the nation in terms of food insecurity. This is why our food pantry is busy, it is why we are seeing more seniors coming to us for food. When I talk with these people many of them receive only $40 in food stamps a month. Ten dollars a week. Now we get so caught up in debating about whether people are working hard enough or whether this is a political issue the reality is trying to live on 1.36 a day for a month or spend only 9.52 a week at the grocery store. It is not a debate when people are going hungry.

There is a profoundly beautiful poem by Warsan Shire called "Home" the Bishop of Maine posted it this week when everyone was and still is debating the fate of the Syrian refugees in Europe. The opening line says  "no one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark". It goes on to poignantly tell all the hardships of leaving home and how there is no choice, no one chooses that kind of a life. Still we debate while children, the elderly, the sick, mothers and fathers die. Because we can, because we are safe at home.

Where is Jesus? Where would Jesus be? We have to asks ourselves this question honestly and forget politics, forget laws, forget our own privilege and live in the discomfort of truly asking how do we follow. Do we follow Jesus as a word of law hoping nothing will be asked of us? Do we follow Jesus as a great idea, but we can't possibly reach out to those people? Do we follow Jesus because we have to deny something within ourselves, something we misunderstood, and have to take action? Can we really follow the Jesus who could die for a hurting world because Messiah doesn't mean agreeing with what is popular, or agreeing with what is not sinful, or standing with the powers of this world, but standing with the poor, sinful, outsiders and welcoming them in.