Reading: Matthew 16: 21-28 (Click to read text)
Reflection: Scripture and history are filled with stories about people of God screwing up. Eve and Adam in the Garden of Eden, doing the one thing they were told not to do. Jacob trying to trick his dad and cheat his brother out of the firstborn's blessing, only to be cheated himself later in the story. King David . . . . Peter, the most clueless disciple, over and over again not getting the point Jesus is trying to teach his followers, then actually denying that he even knows Jesus after his arrest. Not a stellar bunch, are they?
While I would say that most of my screw ups would be pretty boring stories, there certainly are plenty of them. Moments in my life (or whole chapters) when I’ve forgotten that God is God and I am not. Incidents where I’ve
been unwilling to love the neighbor (or family member) beside me. Situations where I have been engulfed in hopelessness, forgetting the promises and faithfulness of God. Times when I’ve lost sight of God’s call to live love and compassion and forgiveness toward all those I encounter. There are surely moments when each of us struggle to be who we are invited to be as followers of Jesus.
Following Jesus is not an easy road. Human nature makes us want to focus on ourselves, our needs, our own wants and priorities. It takes a colossal effort to set aside ourselves and focus on the needs of others. It takes patience and insight to listen and hear what Jesus is trying to say.
We will fall short. We will fail. And when we do, God is there. God heals us and forgives us and welcomes us to continue trying to follow. Like God blessed the world through Eve and Adam, and saved the people of Israel through one of Jacob’s sons, and inspired generations through the stories of David, or spread God’s love through the mission of Peter, God will work in our lives, and use us to bless the world and share God’s love with the people we encounter. We don’t have to be a stellar bunch . . . It’s God who makes the difference. --Alicia Anderson, Penn State Lutheran Campus Minister
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