“...Christian life requires a willingness to love. And I don’t mean ‘love’, the theory, or ‘love’, the warm feeling. I mean ‘love’, the act of will, the act of courage. Real love is always expensive. Real love is always anchored in the truth about ourselves and about others. And while the truth will make us free, nobody said it would make us comfortable. The truth is that the world is a sinful place, and we’re part of that sinfulness.
...In a way, all Christians are caught in a seeming dilemma, between the stars God calls us to reach for, and the clay we’re made of. God asks us to acknowledge all of our many sins, but then He insists that we trust in His love anyway, believe in our dignity anyway, follow Him anyway, and sanctify the world anyway. And that means that if we try to do what seems so improbable—to love as Jesus loved—we’re going to struggle and sometimes fail, and in failing, we’ll experience the disdain of the world.
So it has always been. When the prophet Isaiah tells us that the Spirit of God has anointed him to ‘bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound’ (Is 61:1), he doesn’t talk about the cost, because he’s consumed with the reward of serving God—and rightly so. But Isaiah was also a sinner like the rest of us, and from the Scriptures we know that people rejected him the same way they rejected every other prophet.
The cost of discipleship can be high. Real love is always beautiful but also humbling. It asks us to listen to the needs of others and to choose what’s best for them first. It asks us to admit our sins and repent of them, but it also offers the solace that we not be deterred by them. This is why discipleship is not for the fainthearted, and Christian life is an adventure meant for the brave. God needs people of selflessness and character. God needs men and women who will help Him remake the world, who will allow Him to make them into a holy people, something more than what they are without Him.
...Today, Jesus asks each of us, not just those of us who are priests, to be His Father’s word becoming flesh through the witness of our lives. It’s through our witness—despite all our failures but guided, lifted up, and encouraged by our pastors who share our same struggles—that Christ sanctifies the world. When people see and hear us, they should see and hear Jesus Christ; and through Jesus, they will encounter the Father who loves them despite their sins, and our sins.”