Don’t Look Back

On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.”

Then he said to the disciples, “The days are coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. They will say to you, ‘Look there!’ or ‘Look here!’ Do not go, do not set off in pursuit. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one side to the other, so will the Son of Man be in his day. But first he must endure much suffering and be rejected by this generation. Just as it was in the days of Noah, so too it will be in the days of the Son of Man. They were eating and drinking, and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed all of them. Likewise, just as it was in the days of Lot: they were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building, but on the day that Lot left Sodom, it rained fire and sulfur from heaven and destroyed all of them —it will be like that on the day that the Son of Man is revealed. On that day, anyone on the housetop who has belongings in the house must not come down to take them away; and likewise anyone in the field must not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife. Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it. I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other left. There will be two women grinding meal together; one will be taken and the other left.” Then they asked him, “Where, Lord?” He said to them, “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”

Luke 17:11-32

Sometimes those with the deepest faith are the people you might not expect. In Jesus’s time it was Samaritans, godless foreigners. In our time it might be a homeless person, or a single mom, or a recovering drug addict, or refugees fleeing to our country. Outcasts seem to understand God’s message and their need for Him better than the comfortable do. We have to be careful to be like this Samaritan, and not the other nine who take their miracles for granted. I know I personally need to take more time to thank God for my numerous blessings each day. There a miracles all around me that I’ve become quite normalized to, and I want to be filled with wonder by them the way I used to be.

The time is coming when each of us must make a choice. Will we follow God whole-heartedly, without regretting the things we will miss on earth? Or will we put our comforts, fears, and habits before God? “Those who lose their life will keep it.” Human nature may be to cling to our earthly goods and comforts, but God urges us not to. He says it over and over again, SEEK GOD FIRST. Everything else is secondary at best. And if we can’t understand that in this life, I think we will probably continue to struggle with it when Jesus comes.

I don’t want to turn to a pillar of salt like Lot’s wife. I want to follow Jesus without looking back. I want to put everyone else (and especially God) before myself. But I’m not sure I know how to do that. It’s hard to not be proud of or attached to your stuff. That old cliche that everything you have is just a loan from God doesn’t help me much. Whether it’s God’s or mine, that book collection in the office sure does make me happy to look at.

I know I’ve said it over and over again, but I wish Jesus had said more about how. I don’t know how to have stuff but not to love it.

I also know I’ve ignored a good chunk of this passage to talk about something I’ve already spent a lot of time talking about. That’s just where my heart and mind has been this year. Would love to hear your thoughts.

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