SEPTEMBER Not for the Faint of Heart

Following where God leads is not an easy task. God's ways are not only foreign to us, but often go against our sense of what is acceptable, realistic, and just. We do not become willing disciples simply by saying yes to God. It takes practice, prayer, and ongoing relationship with God and one another to shapeshift ourselves into those who "live in the manner of Christ."

We can admit openly that being faithful is hard work. Loving our neighbors as ourselves is hard work. Forgiving once -- let alone seventy times -- is hard work. We will fail time and time again to be who God desires us to be. But that’s simply the human predicament. The good news is that God cannot seem to let us murmur and moan alone.

This month's lectionary passages highlight our very real and understandable human behavior, but also challenge us to remember who God is and to live from such remembrance. The path to salvation is a life-long journey, with fits and starts, more dependent on God’s love, patience, and teaching than on our blurred understandings. But that doesn't let us off the hook as idle recipients of God's mercy and grace. Our duty is to turn to God for instruction, to bring both our pleas and praises honestly before a God who hears us, and to love, support, and encourage one another in our feeble attempts at faithful living.

Enuma Okoro, of Durham, North Carolina, is the author of Reluctant Pilgrim and co-author of Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals.

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