Why can’t life be like Burger King, where I can always get it my way. As a young child, I grew up watching the Burger King commercials and they always talked about getting it your way at Burger King. Being a little bit of a picky eater that was great news and always a first choice on where to eat. It sure tasted good but was probably not the healthiest choice I could have made. It was a great advertisement campaign, though, because it spoke to something inside of all of us as rebellious children of God, our selfish natures inherited by the stain of original sin. Often, as children, we get our way a lot because we cry, we’re cute we just wear our parents out by asking over and over again. But kind of like Burger King, getting our way all of the time is not good for us. It will not prepare us for eternal life in heaven. We are all on a journey of purification, a journey to rid ourselves of our selfish natures. Even Peter, the apostle, to whom God gave the keys to the kingdom of heaven struggled with this. In John 21, Jesus asks him three times, “Do you love me?” Peter answers, “Yes, Lord, you know that I do.” Jesus then has this to say:
Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go. John 21:18
My life is a journey of letting go of control and then trying to take it back, a real battle of the wills, mine versus God’s. In the above reading, Jesus was giving Peter a foreshadowing of the kind of death he would endure for the sake of the Gospel. Is there a message for me in there also? If I become a true disciple of Christ will I have to be different, will I have to give up control. One thought that often comes up in my mind is, “Who do I minister to?” Do I get to choose who I minister to? Sure I do, I have free will but if I am really going to live the life of a disciple the answer is no, In the early days of the church, Peter had these same questions. Jesus came for his chosen people, the Jews, so that is where he was going to work. But God had a different idea.
As I began to speak, the holy Spirit fell upon them as it had upon us at the beginning, and I remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said, ‘John baptized with water but you will be baptized with the holy Spirit.’ If then God gave them the same gift he gave to us when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to be able to hinder God?” Acts 11:15-17
I may be called to meet my friends at church but I will also be called to the homeless, those in prison, the poor, the rich, different races, different cultures and ages. We never know who God will put in our path. If we listen and are open though, amazing things can happen; conversion, reconciliation, hope given and hearts turning toward God. I pray that we may find great joy in meeting the people that God will put into our paths and will have the courage to walk with them on their journey.