Lectionary Reading: Mark 8:27-38 (NRSV)
I prefer to know what is expected of me in advance. When someone has a sales pitch, they often want to make small-talk first in order to soften me up. Once we’ve established a friendship, it will be harder for me to turn them down (in theory). I’m not such an easy mark though.
Once, Sheryl and I somehow got signed up for a time-share pitch in Mexico. We both went into the pitch adamant that we were not purchasing anything. They worked on us and showed us around. They took us to a nice breakfast and they had comped us with tickets to various excursions.
They tried to get us to participate by writing down the things we were looking for in a vacation. Since this was past the time limit they had originally given us, we were no longer playing around. They even had two sales reps playing the “good cop, bad cop” routine with us. We would not be coerced or shamed into buying! The rep playing the role of the good cop mentioned to us when we were alone, “I’ve never seen anyone with a blank sheet of paper before!” indicating their inability to move us toward a purchase.
While this may be unethical to waste their time knowing that we were not going to go through with it, I will say that they were very pushy to get us into their resort to begin with! We were very up front about our intentions so they shouldn’t have been surprised that we kept to our word. So I guess, let the seller beware!
As we read today’s scripture, we see that Peter seems to have buyer’s remorse when he finally realizes what discipleship under Jesus is leading him toward. I can hardly blame him. If you were looking for glory, fame and honor tied to an earthly kingdom and then found out that you might end up dying, you might be a little disillusioned as well! Peter may have been thinking, “This is more than I bargained for!” or “I didn’t sign up for this!” Jesus is speaking a bit cryptically when he talks about saving and losing our lives.
It seems as if the spiritual life is not as straightforward as the material world. Sometimes I wish it was. In the material world, I can make a purchase and know what I’m buying before I get it. I know how many hours I’ll have to work to earn the money for that purchase. As far as my investment of time and work, I can estimate if it is worth the effort.
But how often do we really make these calculations?
What does it mean to follow Jesus?
What does it mean to follow Jesus today? There is no physical manifestation and so it is much less tangible to us than it was for Peter. What are the rewards? More importantly, what are the costs?
I hope you’ll join us as we consider these questions together in worship on Sunday!
Check out more of Sam’s blog articles at www.precedinggrace.blogspot.com.
Photo used from Flickr.com via Creative Commons.