He summoned the Twelve and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them to proclaim the Kingdom of God and to heal the sick. He said to them, “Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there and leave from there. And as for those who do not welcome you, when you leave that town, shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them.” Then they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the good news and curing diseases everywhere. (Luke 9:1-6)
We Christians can be a remarkable lot of people. Our God came down to earth to teach us how to build his kingdom on earth. Each of us, by doing so, earn the inheritance of life eternal with him.
The problem is that too many never acknowledge that truth by living in accordance with his word and his teaching. We are great at looking the part. Going to Church, looking reverent, praying with pious like devotion, maybe even fostering a friendship with the Pastor so we look even better. Too many are masterful in their disguise.
Truthfulness begins with being poor in spirt. Today’s scripture reminds us that the apostles went about their mission traveling as light as could be – free of earthly goods but full of their mission. When Jesus instructed the apostles to go out with little, he was not doing it for show. No, he instructed them in this manner to help them grow in their dependence on God rather than on world goods.
They needed to proclaim by how they dressed, walked, ate and slept that they trusted in God who promised to care for them more than for the lilies and sparrows. Jesus himself didn’t even have a pillow to lay his head.
If we can’t acknowledge and live that dependence, then we don’t and can not claim the inheritance that he promises to each of us. It’s even deeper and more complex than that.
Unless we own our true identity and dependence on God, we will never be able to understand who we truly are. If we go through life just doing one thing after the other, it is easy to let the circumstances of life define who we are. We can allow our failures and mistakes to tell us that we are worthless. We can conclude that we are expendable, of little value. But this is not the truth. God has made us and saved us. God has made us God’s own. We will only know that identity when we claim our true name.
And the minute we do that, it leads us to mission. The minute we are able to say to ourselves, “I am a beloved daughter or son,” in that minute, we have good news. We have good news to spread to the world. Jesus’ baptism does not only mark the moment where he claims his true identity and dignity, it is also the beginning of his public ministry. For in Jesus’ life, as in ours, when we claim our identity, we become empowered for mission. Dignity leads to service.
So that is who we are. But we need to claim that identity in order to know our dignity, in order to serve. We need to claim that identity regularly. Here’s what I need to do. I need to wake up each morning and say, “My name is Steve and I am a beloved son of God. I am not worthless. I am precious. I am not without purpose. I am called. I am not forgotten. I am loved. God delights in the fact that I have another day to live.”
That’s what I need to do each day, and you need to do the same. You need to wake up each morning and say this is my name and I am a child of God. Once we do that, once we claim that identity, a question follows: Lord, what do you want me to do today? That’s the way to begin each morning, claiming your identity and asking God how you are called to serve.
I assure you, if we could begin our day in that way, we would live a radically different life. We would not lead a life of emptiness but of dignity, not a life of aimlessness but of purpose, not a life of confusion but of joy. The difference comes from claiming who we are. The difference comes from hearing our true name.
Prayer of The Day
“Lord Jesus, make me a channel of your grace and healing love that others may find life and freedom in you. Free me from all other attachments that I may joyfully pursue the things of your heavenly kingdom. May I witness to others the joy of the Gospel both in word and deed.”
What kind of power and authority does God want you to exercise in your personal life and service? God’s word has power to change and transform our lives. Jesus gave his apostles both power and authority to speak and to act in his name – to cast out evil spirits, to heal, and to speak the word of God. When Jesus spoke of power and authority, he did something unheard of. He wedded power and authority with love and humility. The world and the flesh seek power for selfish gain. Jesus teaches us to use it for the good of our neighbor. God gives power and strength to those who rely on him alone.