Summary: Our response to God needs to be total.
We are called to be fools for Christ's sake
"Then He summoned His twelve disciples and gave them authority to expel unclean spirits and to cure sickness and disease of every kind"
Everything in life that has meaning and value is rooted in God's Grace. Paul begins all his letters by reminding the people, to whom he was writing, of the Grace of God. "Grace be with you," he says.
Jesus came to reveal that Grace to us: To show us what it is; to show us that it’s real; to show us that it’s available. But he also came to show us that the way we appropriate that Grace for our lives…is through the completeness of our response to God. This is made more and more clear to us as we draw close to Jesus and see Him as the Model of how we should respond to God. In Jesus we see the total response: total obedience to God’s Will; total acceptance of God's love; and total dependence for fulfillment of God's Resurrection Power. That is our model.
The legendary Hollywood motion picture executive, Samuel Goldwyn, was one of those people who "saves" everything. Through the years, he refused to allow his staff to throw anything away. His secretary began to get the feeling that she was drowning in the stacks of old telephone messages, letters and inter-office memos that were piled everywhere in the office. So in desperation, she pleaded with Mr. Goldwyn: "Please," she said, "Won't you allow me to at least throw away the memos and letters that are more than ten-years-old?" To which Samuel Goldwyn replied, "All right. But don't forget to make a copy before you do!"
In a sense, that is exactly how we see the Grace of God working in today's message. Jesus, having selected the twelve apostles, is now training them to carry on His ministry to the world. In a few short years He will be gone, but before His seeming destruction on the Cross-He will teach them to imitate Him, to copy His lifestyle. "The gift you have received, give as a gift," He told His apostles. "Cure the sick, raise the dead, heal the leprous, expel demons." In other words, "Receive God's gift of Grace as I have received it. Respond to God's gift of love as I have responded, through a ministry of loving service to the whole world. I am the way the truth and the life . . . Imitate Me! Copy Me!"
"Copy Me!" To copy Jesus is what we Christians are being asked to do with our lives. We are being asked to respond to God totally, as Jesus did; to bring every part of our being into our relationship with God. We are being asked to freely and joyfully say to God, "Lord, I love You with my whole being. In imitation of Christ, I will do Your Will in all things. In imitation of Christ, I will place my complete trust in the Resurrection Power of Your Love. In imitation of Christ, I will commit my life fully to a ministry of loving service, even unto the least of my brothers and sisters…In imitation of Christ." Copy Jesus; plagiarism is not only allowed it is encouraged! Commanded even!
Some time ago, oil was discovered in southern Kentucky. Believe me it wasn’t a major oil strike by any stretch, but it was a big deal for Kentucky and soon that entire area of the countryside was ripped apart, as more and more people began drilling. One day, a man who was driving through the area saw a local farmer on the road, walking into town. He offered the farmer a ride and during the course of their conversation, the man driving the car learned that oil had been discovered on this man's farm. The farmer said, "Yes sir! Three good wells! They say they'll bring in at least 300 barrels a day." So, at that time, at $27 a barrel for crude, this average “Joe farmer” just discovered an annual income of about $2.5 million dollars after expenses. At this, the other man replied, "My goodness. What are you going to do with all that money?" The farmer looked out over the scarred land and oil rigs and said, "I'm gonna buy me a farm that don't have any oil on it."
That’s a striking story, mainly because it shows a person who sees something more valuable than the money his oil wells are producing. Such a person is a rare individual these days. More and more in our society money is the name-of-the-game of life. Most of us know what we would do in that farmer's situation: we'd keep on digging for more wells; try to get more money; we'd do everything in our power to move deeper into that “strike-it-rich” that “strike while the irons hot” situation. And, it is precisely in this area of our existence that most of us, who are trying to imitate Christ, encounter our biggest stumbling block. The ability to totally respond to God's love and to be totally committed to the Christian ministry of loving service depends, in this money driven age, largely on a willingness to choose God over mammon. If our priorities are sound then our “natural family” should be the most important thing “On Earth” to us. But even they should be no higher than “Second Fiddle” versus our relationship with God. Then there is the “Church Family” and a lot of other things that come before our desire for the “almighty dollar.” That doesn’t belong anywhere close to the top!