22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
Matthew 16: 21-27
"All are called. All are chosen”
By Rev. Dr. Jack R. Miller
Baylus Benjamin McKinney or B. B. McKinney, as he was commonly known, was an American singer, songwriter, teacher, and music editor. He wrote the words and music to 149 hymns and gospel songs. His most famous included "The Nail Scarred Hand," "Let Others See Jesus in You," "Satisfied with Jesus," and "Breathe on Me," among others. In 1937, he wrote "Wherever He Leads I'll Go" based on our scripture this Sunday.
"Take up thy cross and follow Me," I heard my Master say: "I gave my life to ransom thee, surrender your all today." Wherever he leads I'll go, wherever he leads I'll go: I'll follow my Christ who loves me so, wherever he leads I'll go."
These are moving words sung by countless congregations from all over the world. Words lifted by choirs and soloists, in small home churches and massive cathedrals; an altar-call anthem for jam-packed revival stadiums where Billy Sunday, Billy Graham, and others poured out the gospel message to thousands. But as one anonymous writer penned, "What a sight it would be -- Christians bearing their cross, instead of simply singing about it."
We are here today to talk about cross-bearing and what discipleship means to you and me. It is never too late to take up whatever cross we are asked to bear and begin to share whatever gift God has blessed us with. As William Penn once wrote, "No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown."
The only guarantee we have is that whatever cross we are asked to take up and carry will not be an easy load to shoulder. Why? Because it often represents a value system that runs counter to our own, and it compels us to make choices we would rather not make. The life of the true disciple of Christ is one of generosity, selflessness, and sacrificial service to others in order to bring the joy and hope of the resurrection into our lives and theirs.
Christ’s call to discipleship often compels us to embrace values that run counter to the world. Jesus also asks his disciples to detach from the temporal things of this world and to attach themselves to the lasting, fulfilling things of God: compassion, reconciliation, justice, love, and peace. Authentic discipleship involves shouldering the cross and denying ourselves; disowning ourselves as the center of our existence and realizing that God is now the object and purpose of our lives.
Jesus’ vision of community includes disciples grounded in his example of selflessness and service. Such a community represents a value system that is centered on the reality of the cross and the certainty of the resurrection. Christ asks us to put ourselves and our own needs second to the common good, to lift the fallen, This is the life of the true disciple of Christ, this is the cross we all take up and carry, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant our gift may appear. All are called; all are chosen.
Today, let us renew our commitment to follow the call of Jesus in our everyday lives. Let our hearts sing the words and our lives express the message that B. B. McKinney penned in 1937, "I’ll follow my Christ who loved me so, wherever he leads, I'll go."