Dr. Ozzie Smith on "The Peril (and the Promise) of Being Met by Jesus"

Dr. Ozzie Smith, UCC pastor in the Chicago area, reflects on this week's Day1 sermon by Bishop Will Willimon, based on Mark 10.

Amen Bishop Willimon! That truly is another way of looking at what we once thought to be BAD news! Jesus tells this man he only has one thing wrong on the test--erase it and come on! What an invitation!

Jesus looked at this man and loved him in spite of the fact that he thought he had "following" all figured out--he had given himself an "A" but couldn't give up the grade for grace. Howard Thurman suggested that sometimes we think we have all things covered, but there is always an exposed flank somewhere. That exposed flank is where our behavior betrays our belief and we walk away. Perhaps that is why we miss it because we believe we've already got it. To this day I believe that such certainty can lead to our own undoing and uncertainty. Jesus is still the answer!

The illustrations were humorous but profound and reminded me of a church featured in USA Today a while back. The pastor of that church paid people of differing races to come to church and Bible study--just to see what the beloved community would look like--they came because they were paid, not called! Nevertheless, the promise outweighs the peril. Cross-bearing is indeed a preview to crown-wearing! Thanks Bishop Willimon for a fresh and creative WORD! Thanks Day1 for the lift!

--Ozzie Smith

UPDATE from the Rev. Dr. Billy Cox:

As I read the sermon by Will Willimon two things came to mind. First, most any preacher who has been around for a long time has heard it said "the best thing that can happen to this church is to have a few good funerals".

Second, where dropping every thing and being set free from all of our stuff to follow Jesus, so much of it depends on what our stuff is and how wed we are to our stuff.

We naturally feel sorry for any person who is selfishly hooked on their stuff. We all know stuff is so temporary, here today gone tomorrow.

For example, Mahatma Gandhi got rid of his stuff to follow his God and helped to liberate a race of people. Without stuff, Gandhi inspired the world. The late R.G. LeTourneau kept the riches he earned, his stuff from his great Caterpillar Company, then gave much of it away to follow Jesus. He used his stuff to build schools and change lives.

To be a true and dedicated follower of Jesus, which most of us, regardless of our age are still in the beginner stage, has more to do with how we use our so-called stuff than it does than being set free from it.

A wise person is reported to have said "A Christian should make all he can, save all he can and give all he can".

One can choose to be a Grinch with little or much of life's stuff. As Willimon suggest being set free unwed from whatever our stuff might be is the secret. As we all know, this is every persons dilemma and life long struggle.

Peter, best wishes to you and your talented staff.

--Billy Cox

Louisville, Kentucky