Kingdom Principle: The reward of discipleship is freedom to choose & change
Freedom is only known out of the experience of liberation
|Genesis 22:1-14||Psalm 13||Romans 6:12-23||Matthew 10:40-42|
Abraham & David certainly learned to clean their closet (for it was filled with many dirty rags) … Freedom is walking in faith believing that salvation is a gift and sanctification is a process.
Depending on how you look at it – one drawback to losing weight- is that your clothes no longer fit…. (Unless you love to shop and have extra $$ – then it truly is a win-win) It has been almost two years since I lost over 2 inches in my waist line – and I still have a pair a jean shorts that to wear them I must bunch and crunch them with a belt or else they will drop to my knees. Why don’t I just get a new pair? I’m cheap!? I can’t find ones that are as comfortable!? I don’t wear them all that often, so why bother!? All of these express the practical reality of wearing clothes that do not fit… (there are also many other stories to share of people who wear clothes that don’t fit for the opposite reason, they gained weight and are stilling wearing items far too small) There are even more possibilities as to why we wear clothes that do not fit… denial, fear, nostalgia, etc… but all of these have to do with clothes that we wear on the outside and the physical shape of our bodies. How does this play out in the transformation of the soul? What are the “clothes of the soul” that we change as we encounter the development of our soul? Disciple your bodies and it will change “shape”, develop your soul and it will change shape as well.
In the lectionary Scriptures this week; we see the results of developing one’s soul and wearing clothes of the transformed soul that fit. This takes place after we journey through the blind spot, or others have called it the dark night of the soul. We read the declarations of David and the obedience of Abraham, seeing them in the clothes that “fit” the image as those who are our covenantal forefathers in the faith. The old is gone (murder, deception, adultery) the new has come and we encounter the rewards of wearing clothes that fit. (Blessings that carry on from generation to generation). Jesus draws upon Isaiah 61 to clarify his mission on earth, and out this text we find an allusion to this concept: “I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness…”
While the texts of this week exemplify what it means to wear a robe of his righteousness, it might help us to see how Paul in the New Testament further express this idea of our soul being clothed.
- Romans 13:12-14 “12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh”
- Galatians 3:26-29 26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
- Colossians 3:12-14 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Therefore choose to change your clothes, toss the old, and put on the new and in the process you shall enjoy the reward of the King. What kind of reward is being offered? It is the reward of freedom. The reward of learning to walk in freedom, free from fear (blind spots) and free from being controlled and the need to be in control (breaking points). This freedom means you are no longer bound to wear the “jail jumpsuit” of this world, or clothes that are assigned (labels) to you by others. (last week we saw how Jesus came to cut these things away with a sword…) In Christ, you wear the clothes that express His heart, in praise and lament, in joy and long suffering.
It does not read like a climax of success, but the story of Abraham walking in obedience to offer Isaac as a sacrifice is just that: We re-cast all of Abraham’s story through this journey. He walked by faith, and it was credited to him as righteousness, this is the culmination of a life in relationship (discipleship) with God. Abraham’s soul is not at war with God, and it is also not at war with the world, (previously this had not been the case) rather he is clothed with self-control, humility, patience, and gentleness. And out of this comes the very rewards promised in Genesis 12. Discipleship does not get us rewards, rather discipleship is the reward. We do not earn rewards, but we do enjoy the relationship. The freedom of radical liberation is the very love gift of God, we call eternal life. It is the freedom to choose to lament as the psalmist does, and at the same time change to declare that you shall overcome.
The focus this week is on the clothes of righteousness, which come as the fruit of faithfulness. How fit is your soul and what are clothes do you have to choose from to wear? The reward of faithful living is wearing the clothes of Christ and feeling like it is the perfect fit. The Soul is developed in submission to the direction of the Holy Spirit in the context of relationships through character formation and our values being challenged.
Below is further connections with the Gospel text this week…
If discipleship earned us the reward than it would be impossible for both the prophet and the one who welcomes the prophet to get the same reward, clearly in the Matthew text the focus is not on the level of the reward, but rather the level playing field of all who receive the reward, whether you are a seed planter (prophet), a mature crop (righteous person) or a sapling (little one/disciple)… or one who simply cares for the garden (welcome/giver of water), the same reward is availed to each.
If you have ever planted a vegetable garden, you know that the reward begins long before the fruit of the crop is eaten; rather it builds with the each step toward the first sprout and carries all the way through the season. Freedom is having the “fruit” of the garden from which to draw from and “wear”. If you do not plant (discipleship of body and soul), then you are dependent (slaves) to what others provide. But we all know that planting is not simply dropping a seed and walking away… We must till the soil, fertilize water, weed, seed, weed, water, till, fertilize, weed, water and so on….