No matter how hard we try to pretend, we live in the real world. Philosophies and worldviews may try to shield us from this cold, hard truth. But, try as they might, they only succeed in stealing real life and real time from us. Why is this truth so hard for us to accept?
Well, I’m convinced that my biggest problem with this reality is simply that I prefer my fantasy world to the “real” world. And that’s because in my fantasy world I am always happy. I am always in control, I am always the center of attention, or I am always correct in my opinions. In my fantasy world, I am god. And that, dearest is the problem, because (and you ought to say a prayer of thanksgiving here) I am not god. The truth is in my real life I am not always right, I am not always in control, and I am not always the most interesting man in the world. But I happen to know Who is!
You see, we humans suffer from a blindness that robs us of peace and joy. This blindness is often self-inflicted and is constantly trying to keep us in the prison of our delusions. This blindness wants to create the illusion that I am in control or that I am the master of all around me. But this illusion only succeeds in creating a person who interprets all actions of others in light of his own personal happiness and that leads to either a withdrawal from relationships or the opposite poverty of attempting to “control” others for my own good. Both delusions lead to broken relationships, unhealthy relationships, and co-dependent relationships. I’m not seeing a lot of fulfillment or happiness here. Are you?
Look at our Gospel Lesson today in Luke 14:25-35. Jesus is speaking plainly about how to be a true disciple of Him and He simply leaves us no where to hide!
At that time, great multitudes accompanied Jesus; and he turned and said to them, “If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build, and was not able to finish.’ Or what king, going to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends an embassy and asks terms of peace. So therefore, whoever of you does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltness be restored? It is fit neither for the land nor for the dunghill; men throw it away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Notice the Lord deals with our spiritual blindness and delusion head on. He insists that to get all our other relationships right we have to get our relationship to God right FIRST. In fact, my relationship with myself is not right until my relationship with Him is right. Next, the only way to ever come to this reorienting of my relationships is by understanding what it will cost me if I do this work and what it will cost me if I don’t! The Lord leaves us with no other alternative but to embrace this reordering of our priorities if we ever hope to actually be what we claim to be: followers of Him. Of course you could decide to not follow Him, but then that leads to a loss of your very purpose of being created. You lose your “saltiness.”
I love that turn of phrase the Lord uses. He uses the ancient example of salt; a commodity so valuable in the time of Christ that they would actually use salt as currency! Salt preserves. Salt adds flavor! Salt is a disinfectant! Salt equals life! Even to this day, one of the time honored traditions of greeting our bishops when they come to our communities is to offer them bread and salt! The properties of salt are the spiritual properties you are meant to have in they way you live your life. You are meant to live in such a way that your life adds “flavor” to all around you. You are meant to live your life in such a way that it helps “preserve” true life in all around you. You are the salt of the earth. But if the “salt” loses its “saltiness” what good is it? So too a follower of Christ in word only simply doesn’t fulfill the purpose of a believer who is doing the hard work of reorienting her priorities to BE what you were meant to be!
Today, are you the “salt” in your world? Does your life reflect the hard work of a purposeful follower of Jesus Christ? Are you wise enough to embrace all the spiritual tools so abundant in our Orthodox faith to help you keep your “saltiness?” As we fast during this Winter Lent, perhaps it’s time to realize the disciplines of the faith aren’t there to make your life hard or to make you feel guilty, but they are there to help you keep your true identity clear and your true worth plain. It’s time to stay salty, my friends!
P.S. I’m looking forward to being at Christ the Savior Greek Orthodox Church in Bluff City, TN this Saturday. Click on the poster below and call the church to let them know you are coming. The presentation will be “Orthodox on Purpose.” I look forward to meeting you this Saturday. And I look forward to you joining me on our next Faith Encouraged LIVE program as we discuss Authentic Stewardship with my special guest Bill Mariannes. Bill has been travelling around the country for the last several years helping parishes reorient their ideas about stewardship. This Sunday at 8 PM Eastern we will get to talk to him about his experiences and insight. Listen at AncientFaith.com.