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Arise and Shine (Mark 5:21-43)

Does a relationship with Christ matter?

When you first read that question, your initial response was probably, “Yes! Totally! It is super important and awesome!”

Calm down. Sit back in your chair.

Reflect for a while longer. A few questions may help:

If someone didn’t know you and observed your life for a month, without bias, what would they say mattered most to you?

In your ministry, do you evangelize like a relationship with Christ heals or do you succumb to the temptation to hide behind a desk?

When you put on a retreat, do you spend double the time in prayer as you prepare, or is it an afterthought?

In the wake of tragedy, is your first response prayer as a platitude or is it a surge of the heart toward a God that you believe will act powerfully within your life?

Too often, we want to play the part of the disciple, but we end up becoming a Pharisee. We look and act the part, but our heart is far from Christ.

It is a sinister thing, and it happens without us realizing it. We take in the rhetoric of a world that tells us miracles don’t exist; that prayer is empty, and what we do amounts to foolishness. We pretend like it doesn’t affect us, but slowly we lose faith. We start to see Jesus as a moral philosopher rather than a Messiah and healer. We view him as a life enhancer, rather than a life changer. We make Jesus a pretty stained glass window, rather than a powerful king that holds dominion over all things.

Our attitude comes through when we despair at the way the world seems to be falling. Our despair is confronted with the reality that Christ has conquered the world, and his words, “take heart.”

This week’s readings provide the theological problem and reality and then the solution of faith. The reading from Wisdom is one of my favorites – God created us for love and community. We are made in the image and likeness of the Almighty. God made us to be imperishable – some translations read, “incorruptible.” But through the envy of the devil, through his malice and jealousy for our position and relationship with God, he tempted us into sin. Death enters the world, and we now have a choice. We can choose to stay in the company of the devil and experience that death, or we can place our faith in Christ and receive eternal life.

This faith isn’t for the moments when we are “winning.” It isn’t for the days gone by of Christendom and cultural Catholicism. It is for the times when all seems lost; when we suffer affliction without reprieve. When we are persecuted, and the world seems to turn against us. It is for the moments when everything seems hopeless, and all seems lost. Faith reminds us that love conquers all. If we just could reach out to touch Christ’s garment, if we could just bring him to the place where we feel death is most real, like Jairus, then perhaps we will find healing. It is a faith that does whatever it takes to get to Christ for healing. It is with this faith that we minister to teenagers.

Because coming close to Christ isn’t a “maybe Jesus can still save the world.” Jesus does heal! Jesus has saved the world! We fight from victory and all are invited into that victory.

Even the teenager claiming to be an atheist.

Even people who disagree with us on social media and attack our faith.

Even in the moments when we feel the cards stacked against us, and all seems lost.

We turn back to Christ, and we fight crowds to bring teenagers to Him. We beg and petition, and continue to love and invite people into that relationship because it secures us victory over death.

Your job, my job, our job is to bring as many people along with us as possible, even when it seems impossible. All is not lost, my friends – Jesus saves.

Do you have the faith to fight the crowds to get close to him? Do you believe that all one needs to do is reach out in faith and simply catch a thread of his garment, a strand from the vestment of the King, and that person will be healed? That is a faith that radically changes the world. That is the faith that radically changes us.

 

Image via FlickrCC 2.0, Logo added 

About the Author

Joel Stepanek

I spent most of my 8th grade year in detention because there wasn’t a dare I wouldn’t accept. But in high school, my youth minister dared me to follow Christ and I haven’t looked back. I love all things Wisconsin, especially the Green Bay Packers. I can probably eat more cheese than you. (Please don’t dare me to prove it.) Follow me on Twitter and Instagram at @LT_Jstepanek.