Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Lent 5c - Philippians 3:4-14
If anyone has reason to be confident in their Lutheran pedigree, I have more. Baptized as an infant, bearing a German surname, a Lutheran born of Lutherans, as to education Lutheran grade school, high school, college, and seminary, as to employment nine years a Lutheran school teacher & youth director, and Lutheran pastor for nineteen. Of course the same could be said of other things as well. Years spent in Bible Study Fellowship, giving more than a tithe, status as a deacon or elder, or even quiet and unassuming piety. It is a sign of our separation from the surpassing value of knowing Christ that even humility can be a source of pride. While we can consider all of that loss we cannot enter into this text as Paul or his first century readers as for American Christians to cry persecution is rubbish. Loss of status, if indeed we have even lost much of that, is not blood shed. So how do we share the sufferings of Christ without beatings, imprisonment, hardships and the like? Maybe it begins when we really do count our status as Christians in a culture shaped by Christianity as rubbish. Maybe it continues as we forsake labels of conservative or liberal, progressive or orthodox and churches stop competing for clients by claiming to be better at making disciples. When the surpassing value of knowing Christ means I skip a meal to provide food for someone who is starving, when the debate over health care remembers the children who suffer because parents are poor, when living a moral life is not an option or an obligation but a reflection of Christ. We share in his sufferings when we can no longer follow the crucified by taking up a cross that is comfortable.