The Gospel lectionary reading for today is from Luke 10:17-24....This passage follows on from the one we looked at earlier this week about seeing the need, begging the Lord, and going into the harvest field for God. The first disciples experienced amazing things when they stepped out in faith and obeyed Jesus' command to go. Perhaps we too have seen amazing things accomplished for God's kingdom when we have surrendered to his will.
The seventy returned with joy, saying, 'Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!' He said to them, 'I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See, I have given you authority to tread on snakes and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.'At that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, 'I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.'Then turning to the disciples, Jesus said to them privately, 'Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it.'
However, Jesus told his first disciples, and he tells us, not to rejoice in what we can accomplish for him, but rather we should rejoice that our names are written in heaven. There is nothing wrong with accomplishing things in life, especially accomplishing things for God and God's kingdom. But when we rejoice in those accomplishments it is an easy slide from there into pride.
Jesus tells us we should have a different focus, not on what we have accomplished, but on what he has accomplished for us. Because of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection, our names are written in heaven. That is the most important thing that could possibly happen: that we would be known by God.
When it comes down to it, I tend to think there are two types of people in life: those who focus on accomplishments, and those who focus on relationships. Too often I think I have been focused in my own life on accomplishing things. But what do those things matter compared to people?
As I have already entered the second half of the game of life on this earth, I have come to the conclusion that yes, I want to continue accomplishing things for God and God's kingdom, but even more important than that are my relationships in life. And the most important relationships I can have are first with God (rejoicing that my name is written in heaven), then with my family, then with other Christians (living to lift them up), then with non-Christians (trying to communicate the message of Jesus' love for all in word and deed). Growing relationships that make a difference with God and for his kingdom. That's what I want my life to be about. That's what I want to rejoice in.
What about you? What are you rejoicing in today?