May 5, 2009

Laying Down Our Lives

            The texts for the fourth Sunday of Easter (Psalm 23, 1 John 3: 16-24, and John 10:11-18) remind us that we have been tended, protected, and claimed as God’s very own. “The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Echoing the Gospel, the Epistle declares: “We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.”  There is no pretense that we can simply imitate the life of Jesus.  Rather, it is because we have been liberated from securing our own lives that we can expend them freely.

            This exhortation is for all Christians—not simply the heroic or extraordinary.  The idea of laying down one’s life in our day is confined to military, firefighters, law enforcement officers, or the occasional peace activist. Can it be a way of life that we pursue actively rather than a harsh circumstance that requires it?

            Two former Central students are joyfully demonstrating this stringent discipleship. They are living in the raw northeast section of Kansas City, committing themselves to their neighborhood and forming a faith community there. The husband was offered a full ride for his doctoral studies, but decided to forgo the opportunity in order to keep faith with the emerging community into which they are pouring their lives. The wife, a classically trained dancer, dances enough to help fund their ministry. Laying down ambition for the sake of service, they are following the Good Shepherd as they tend their little flock, abiding in love.

            Molly T. Marshall




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