“As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Except when it gets to be too difficult, or when it means making an ethical decision that might make me less than popular with the people I work with, or when it means using quality materials even though importing cheaper goods would increase profits, or when it means implementing fair interest rates and responsible lending practices, or when it means conserving energy or disposing of waste products appropriately. “This saying is hard, who can accept it?”
We’re all familiar with John 3:16. We see it at sporting events and on billboards. “God so loved the world …” This certainly seems easy enough to accept. After all, doesn’t everyone want to be loved? But how do we respond? Or do we even see any need to respond? John 3:16 doesn’t say anything about responding. Isn’t God’s love free and unconditional?
The answer would, of course, be “yes.” But there’s another part — our part. Do we accept God’s love? Because if we do, then we must choose to be bound to God just as accepting the love of a friend means that we are bound to our friend. We cannot accept God’s love on Sunday morning and then turn around and ignore it on Monday! A little further on, in John 3:19, we read “… the light came into the world but people preferred darkness … because their works (the things that they did at home — and at work — like choosing whether or not to make an ethical decision, cast the dissenting vote, pay a just wage, etc.) were evil.” Here’s where it starts to get hard. No wonder Jesus says that no one can do this unless they have the Father’s help! Did we really think we could handle this on our own?
“Do you also want to leave?” The answer seems obvious on Sunday morning, but what if Jesus was to ask the question at 10 a.m. on Monday? Do we choose to accompany Jesus every day? Or do we prefer to “… return to our former way of life” from Monday through Friday?
Van Benthem is a member of the Secular Franciscan Order and a longtime pastoral minister, retreat leader, spiritual director and published writer and poet.