A strange confluence of reading happened this morning. It is strange for two reasons. First, because I read the wrong passage in Luke. The sleep must have been caked a little heavier than usual this morning, and I accidentally read the passage for next Saturday in Luke 14:25-35. That’s OK, though. I pay attention to these happy little accidents. The second reason it was strange was the way it intersected with the message from Richard Rohr’s daily meditation for today.
The Cost of Discipleship – Saying No
Jesus speaks harshly in Luke 14:25-35. He tells his followers that they cannot be his disciples unless they hate their family, take up a cross, and count the cost. It appears that a person who says they can follow, then backs out, is as foolish and worthless as a builder who doesn’t know how to budget, or a king who goes into war out-numbered, or salt that has lost flavor.
It seems that Jesus tells us to say NO to our lives in order to follow him. Why? Because it will cost everything to be his disciple and live in his kingdom. That is a hard pill to swallow.
In the ancient world, a person’s family was his or her entire identity. To “hate” one’s family is to forsake self and any possessions that come with that family name.
Those of us who are more like the rich young ruler than the blind beggar usually walk away sad when Jesus talks like this.
We like our everything.
Living in the Flow – Saying Yes
I always read scripture first, before I read anything else. Then, I read my favorite devos and/or blog posts. That is my daily practice. So, immediately following Jesus’ harsh words, I read Richard Rohr’s meditation. He says,
I believe that’s what morning contemplation is for: to bring me back in alignment with the Divine Flow so the Infinite Source can once again flow into me and through me. Great love, great suffering, and some form of contemplative practice are the usual paths that help me get my small, false self out of the way and become an open conduit for the gushing stream of abundant life that God always is and that the believer always becomes (see John 7:38).
People often ask me how long they should pray, and I say, “As long as it takes you to get to yes.” If your heart and emotions are still saying “No!” to the moment right in front of you, don’t leave your place of prayer until you find “Yes,” until the flow begins to happen and the constriction (which often feels like pettiness) begins to lose its hold on you. Then you’re abiding in a place of abundance where you know there’s more than enough of you left over, and you don’t need to be stingy, guarded, or hold on to even minor grudges. You can let love flow—to you and through you—toward all the world around you.
I recommend that you read the entire devo (it’s only three additional paragraphs).
Yes on the Other Side of No
Rohr’s words bring Jesus’ words into new light. The No of Jesus’ words is the death to our petty, small self that is constricted in scarcity and fear. The Yes implied in Jesus’ invitation, and explicated in Rohr’s devo, is the resurrection of the new life in Christ that steps into the flow of God’s abundant love.
Here’s the thing about God’s love. It is the life of resurrection that requires death before it can happen. It needs a cross. Here we can understand the Apostle Paul’s words in Galatians 2:19-20,
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
May you find the No to self and the Yes to God’s flow today.