Lectionary Reflection: Luke 9:51-62. Stay the Course.

This will be a short post.  It does not require length, though the ramifications may go on forever.  It begins by saying that these words in Luke are NOT about the “Cost of Discipleship” or as the NIV describes it, the “Cost of following Jesus.”  No.

Jesus is not saying sell your home.  He is not saying do not mourn the dead.  He is not saying ignore your family.  Earlier, he did not say the people of that village did not deserve to have fire called down from heaven on their heads.  What he was saying was do not be distracted.  Do not be turned aside.  Stay the course.

This passage does not connect to the hardship Paul suffered in later years, but to Paul’s phrase, “Finish the Race,”  and again, “Fight the Good Fight.”  Paul gave up a great deal, but he also gained much even if all he gained he considered lost for the sake of Christ and His glory.  Paul also suffered much for the gospel, But above all, Paul is an example for us of one who understood the phrase, “Stay the course.”

The passage here is not about the poor, or becoming poor like some medieval monk, or giving things up for Christ, or anything of the sort.  Instead, it connects with Gethsemane, when Jesus asked if the cup might pass from him and said, “Nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.”  Was this a perfect act of submission?  It can be looked at that way, but it must also be looked at this way:  That Jesus was saying in that great moment of prayer, “Nevertheless, I will not turn back.  I will not be turned either to the left or the right.  I will not be distracted or turned aside.  The path is before me and I will walk it to the end.”  Stay the course. 

This life, this universe, all of time and space are dragging us away from what matters.  Every second of every day offers so many options.  There is always something.  There will always be something.  Jesus is saying here that if you set out to follow him, you must stay the course.  That is all.

In preparation for Independence Day, my sons and I sat down for a viewing of the movie, The Patriot.  At one point, Mel Gibson turns to Heath Ledger and explains, “Son, your mother said stay the course.”  That phrase returns in battle, several times, and especially in the end at the last battle.  It is a good phrase.  It is what God is calling us to do.  Remember it the next time you pray and say, nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.  Consider it also when you think of this great nation next week.  Have we stayed the course or have we stepped aside, gotten off the path, let distractions turn us to the left or right?  I am only asking the question.

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