Dare to be different
Benedict XVI and George Pell, two eminent church men gone to God, were people with agenda. What it was, and how that was implemented is the active discussion in many circles. But one thing is clear, these Christian leaders modelled their agenda after that of Jesus. Matthew (4:12-23) exposes Jesus’ agenda and his organisation towards it.
When John the Baptist, who prepared the way for the Kingdom of God, was arrested, Jesus commenced his mission and ministry. His message was same as John’s; “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is close at hand”. Unlike John who prepared people for the Kingdom, Jesus came to establish it. ‘Kingdom of heaven’ means the rule of God or the restoration of the “people of God”. At the very beginning of his ministry, Jesus calls disciples to team up with him. Jesus’ way of choosing disciples were different to that of the Rabbis (Jewish religious teachers). In their case, the disciples came to the Rabbis. But Jesus’ disciples are not chosen from the applications he received. It was his own initiative to call people to join his team, and they had the freedom to accept or reject the call. When Jesus called Peter and his brother Andrew, they were busy with their fishing business. When called they left their business and all that supported them behind and followed Jesus immediately without any hesitation. Similar was the response of James and John. They left their fishing business and their father Zebedee behind to follow Jesus immediately. Their total dedication to the mission of Jesus is a model for all Christian disciples to follow. Jesus called for repentance. Repentance for the kingdom of heaven is not a remorse for the past sins; the call is for transformation for a new way of living. What Jesus demands is very different to the religiosity of our brothers and sisters who try to juggle between their busy professional life and religious commitments.
The Church is the embodiment of Jesus, and the mission of Jesus is continued by her. Just as Jesus was keen to have chosen disciples to share his ministry, the Church today has an elaborate network of Christians sharing the mission and ministry for the kingdom of heaven. The question is these are just busy bodies or is there any transformation for a new life. The current generation perhaps think differently. To them the change in the way of life depends more on the pay packet or on the ‘fitness regime’. According to Matthew’s Gospel, the people of Zebulun and Naphtali found enlightenment in Jesus and his ministry. Where do you look for enlightenment: Jesus or share market and gyms? For us, the call to follow Jesus into the kingdom of heaven is very challenging; it is demanding a total transformation in our way of life. Do you dare to be different for the kingdom of heaven?