Aloha Friday Message – June 23, 2017 – What do you say?

1725AFC062317 – What do you say?

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Aloha nui loa, ʻŌmea! We have a difficult topic today, so without further ado, let’s go for it.

Matthew 10:32-33 32 “Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; 33 but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.

Mark 8:34-38 34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the Gospel, will save it. 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Luke 9:23-26 23 Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. 25 What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves? 26 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words, of them the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

2 Timothy 2:11-14 11 The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.

For those of us on Facebook, this is a passage we see often. “Jesus said ‘If you deny me before others, I will deny you before my Father in Heaven.’ If you love Jesus and confess him, type ‘AMEN’ and repost.” That type of “challenge” is tiring. We end up just putting a lot of SPAM on the Internet, and there’s already plenty enough of that for the whole world. It’s usually presented as a challenge along the lines of “If you’re not ashamed of being a Christian, post this and prove it.” And YADA-YADA-YADA. I sometimes think people who use that kind of challenge are playing the old “One-up-by-one-down.” I prove my superiority by putting down others. A similar game from Dr. Eric Bern’s book Games People Play is “If it weren’t for you.” Everything bad that’s happening to me is your fault. I’m going to try to avoid sounding like that because if I do sound like that, then the whole point of this goes down the drain. I want to look at the idea of acknowledge (confess, accept), and deny (contradict, refuse).

We will use the Greek words here again so that the differences can be clarified:

Confess – ὁμολογήσει (homologēsei) from ὁμολογέω (homologeó) {hom-ol-og-eh’-o} I confess, profess, acknowledge, praise properly, to voice the same conclusion, i.e. agree (“confess“); to profess (confess) because we are in full agreement; to align with (endorse); from Greek homologos ~ of one mind) (homologous for example).

Deny – ἀρνήσομαι (arnēsomai) from ἀρνέομαι (arneomai) { ar-neh’-om-ahee} properly, deny (refuse); hence, contradict, refuse to affirm or to confess (identify with); disown (repudiate) to deny, say no to.

Jesus is exceptionally clear about how Disciples are supposed to align themselves with him. We are to testify. We know from previous lessons that the words “witness” and “testify” are closely related to our English word martyr; from Greek μαρτυρέω (martureó) { mar-too-reh’-o}. All martyrs testify, but not all who testify are martyred in the sense of dying. We who testify are martyred in the sense of mortification, the “dying” of oneself for the betterment or acknowledgement of the other. Here are some examples of Jesus’ instruction on following him. First there is the passage at the top of the essay, Matthew 10:32-33 and then:

Mark 8:34-38 34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. 35 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the Gospel, will save it. 36 For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? 37 Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? 38 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Luke 9:23-26 23 Then he said to them all, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. 24 For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it. 25 What does it profit them if they gain the whole world, but lose or forfeit themselves? 26 Those who are ashamed of me and of my words, of them the Son of Man will be ashamed when he comes in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

2 Timothy 2:11-14 11 The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us; 13 if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.

In addition to this passage which includes Luke 9:23 (deny themselves and take up their cross daily), we have these passages which convey the same challenge: Matthew 10:38-39, Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 14:27. There is obviously a large reward for denying oneself and a large punishment for denying Christ. If we align our lives with his, we accept that our life will have a mission (to make Disciples), as well as a via dolorosa, a Calvary, Life Everlasting, and a Resurrection. IF we are Disciples, then we go wherever Jesus goes. We are ready at all times to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you (See 1 Peter 3:13-16). Bottom line, if you really love Jesus, saying so should be what you expect of yourself – witness. The foundation of that “bottom line” is acting like you really love Jesus. (Often – mistakenly – attributed to St. Francis: Preach the Gospel at all times and only when absolutely necessary, use words.) Hence the dare on social media to prove your faith by witnessing to it. That’s a great thing to do, and while it is also a right thing to do, it isn’t enough. If we love Jesus, we have to carry out Jesus’ command to fulfill our mission. His mission was to bring salvation as promised. Our mission is to make Disciples. Quite a lot of us prefer to do that passively, some even prefer to do it secretly. Jesus never said we had to be PC when it came to testimony. We are to be obvious and noisy about it. Take a look at Matthew 10:26-28 26 So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. 27 What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. 28 Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. I think perhaps there are not many of us who actually fear being killed for being a Christian; we know for a fact, however, that literally thousands of Christians are martyred – KILLED – ALL AROUND THE WORLD. No, we are silent in word and deed because we don’t want to offend someone, or make someone angry, or have to make [a] defense to anyone who demands from [us] an accounting for the hope that is in [us]. That, I suppose, is the justification for the challenge we sometimes get from others. What, then, of the challenge we should be giving ourselves?

Are we truly happy Christians whose lives display the hope that is in us? (Remember the thing about “If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”) Do we actually look for opportunities to openly share our faith? Are we busy in the work of making Disciples? If I love Jesus, shouldn’t I be working hard to help other people know that hope, that love, that joy that should pour like a deluge from my heart? If we are embarrassed to testify to being a Disciple, are we not confessing Jesus? That word again – confessing – is tough to live with. In Latin, the word for “acknowledge” in today’s verse is Confitebitur – as in cōnfiteor: “I confess, admit, agree.” Catholics recognize that word Confiteor. It is part of the daily Liturgy when we confess that we are sinners and ask prayerful support from Heaven and Humanity at the beginning of Mass. It involves doing a quick examination of conscience – am I OK with God, OK enough that I can meet him here at his Altar? There are, it seems to me, two truths about this idea of acknowledging Christ. The first is that I have to be able to say, “Now I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me.” (↔ Music Link) The second is more difficult for some reason. It is to say to others (known or unknown, loved-ones, and even our enemies), “I’m following Jesus. Would you like to go with me?” This is the mission – to make Disciples – and when we refuse to accept our mission, in effect we refuse the command of Jesus; we deny him. We are accountable for the souls we do not work to free from sin and death. Try this little test and see if it makes sense to you.

  • Think of someone you really love, someone for whom you would do anything.
  • Does that person know Jesus as Lord and Savior?
    • If so, think of another loved one
    • If not, what are you going to do about that?

Are we willing to let a loved-one continue to deny Christ and therefore be denied by him? Do we have a thirst for souls? Do we hunger and thirst after righteousness for others and not just for ourselves? On the Day of Recompense, how will we explain to God that the one we love is counted among the goats? Should we maybe be on that side of Judgment with them? Is our child, our sibling, our spouse, our neighbor, our friend, or even our enemy aware that we claim Christ? Is our child, our sibling, our spouse, our neighbor, our friend, or even our enemy in danger of being denied by Him? How will you, how will I, how will we answer that?

What do you say?

Is it enough? Check out Matthew 25:31-46 and see where you stand.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Belovéd!

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture passages are from the New Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (NRSVCE) New Revised Standard Version Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1989, 1993 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Aloha Friday Messages by Charles O. Todd, III is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License

Biblical languages inserts from Bible Hub (Bible Hub: Search, Read, Study the Bible in Many Languages) Visit at http://biblehub.com

 

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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