Sixth Sunday after Easter Lectionary Reflection
May 13, 2013
You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit. — John 15:16
Ever heard the term “frozen chosen”? It’s a descriptor that faithful folk do NOT want applied to them or to their communities. It implies an unwelcoming, change-fearing, stick-in-the-mud, stuck-in-their-ways church, a place where the cold shoulder is the most visible part of the Body of Christ. Oh, no! Surely that’s not us!
If it isn’t–hallelujah! If is it, well, there’s no reason it has to stay that way. You see, Jesus chose us, but he never froze us. Quite the opposite; in fact, he chose us and appointed us to go and be active in the world. We’re called not to be institutional ice but rather to allow ourselves to be ignited by the fire of the Holy Spirit in order to move our feet (and hands and hearts and resources) into the world.
Many things can freeze Christians into ineffective ministry and mission: fear, tradition (i.e. doing things “the way we’ve always done them”), conflict, and lack of vision are a few common “faith freezers.” Many congregations fail to move forward, do not live into their potential as the Body of Christ, and cling for dear sweet life to the life raft of the past when, like Peter, all they need to do is keep their eyes on Jesus.
We are chosen. This is good news we cannot keep to ourselves. We must proclaim it from our pulpits, instill it in God’s people, and share it with the world. Jesus loves us so much that he calls us friends, bringing us into real relationship. Jesus loved us so much that he willingly laid down his life for us. Who does that kind of thing today? What kind of radical, unconditional love is that? Dear friends, we are loved, chosen, appointed, and sent into this world in the name of Christ to flourish–to grow, blossom, and bear fruit abundantly. Connected to such a life-giving source how can we fail to thrive? How dare we be frozen into place and relegated to our own fears and doubts?
Chosen or frozen? The answer is right here in the verses of the gospel reading. It all boils down to love. As God’s chosen people, we are dearly loved, and we are called to abide in that love. Think of it as a plant whose roots grow deeply into the soil of God’s love and purpose. With such nourishment and encouragement we cannot help but grow. When the church, the Body of Christ, in whatever context it is planted, is active in the business of cultivating disciples to love, serve, and know Christ intimately, then the church will flourish in its call to abide in love with joy.
Maybe it is time to forecast a “thaw” in your faith community. Perhaps the winds of change will bring a rain of prayer, a season of discernment, and the tools to dig into scripture and forge strong, vital relationships that will lead to a generous expression of joy and service that defines God’s chosen people as those who love. This world needs to know that we are Christians by our love. May we work to express it to one another and to all corners of creation. After all, this is not an optional activity; this is a command that will lead to our growth and fulfillment. Blessings on your teaching and preaching this week.
Photo by dominiqs used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!