In sending out the 72, Jesus also is relying on a few good people. I think he also is trying to instill an attitude, a culture, in how these disciples should interact with the people they encounter. When he sends them as they are, without a money bag, or sack or sandals, I think he tells us that the outer layers of who we seem to be is not as important as who we are at our core, our commitment, our attitude of peacefulness. We all have baggage we could (and do) carry with us, but Jesus says try to leave all that aside. Just go. Just do. Just stay focused. Don’t stop to socialize, just do what you are sent to do. Don’t waste time on those who reject you, focus on those who are receptive to you. Be zealous. Be driven.
We all know people who are able to do what Jesus asks of the 72, and at times in our own lives perhaps we have been zealous, and driven, and able to be single-minded for a cause, the cause (perhaps) that Jesus calls his disciples to follow. We sometimes have been able to leave behind the baggage and trappings of life. But I wake up un-zealous on more days than I wake up driven. I wake up more times feeling like Demas or Alexander than I do Luke or Mark. I wake up more days burdened by baggage instead of free and unencumbered.
So what to do? Am I one of those people Paul decries, those who have let him down in his efforts? Perhaps. But more likely, I am human. I can’t be up constantly, I can’t be zealous with every breath. I would like to be, but I am not. I am many times “enamored of the present world” – my baggage weighs me down. At other times I know the baggage still is there, but I am able to carry it lightly and ignore it for a period of time. When I look at my actions, more times than not, I do the right thing. More times than not I try. More times than not I feel bad for having fallen short. More times than not I see myself as the brother in Matthew 21:28 who grumbles no, but eventually does what his father asks. It isn’t an either/or situation. It is complex and messy. It is human life.
And so my prayer today is for the grace to let go of the baggage I can and to lift lightly the baggage I must carry.
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