God called Abram into a relationship that took Abram from his home and kindred. Abram left Ur not knowing where following God would take him. The call in today’s passage is even more sweeping: Jesus calls his followers not only to journey with him but to give up their lives for him and for the sake of the gospel.
Paradoxically, those who do so will not lose their life but find it. This is not a call to mere discomfort or upheaval but to a completely new way of being in the world. Abraham receives a new name; we receive a new purpose and a new identity. Carl Jung said, “The world will ask you who you are, and if you don’t know, the world will tell you.” When we cast our lot with Christ, we begin discovering who God wants us to be. Each of us finds our true name, our essential identity, in God. (See Ephesians 3:15.) And this life is a fuller life than any we could design for ourselves.
Each day we trade that day of our life for something. When we try to follow Jesus’ example by bringing love and healing, we have a clear answer when situations and decisions ask us who we are. If we walk into a day intending to listen consciously to Christ and to do what Christ asks, we increase the chances that the trades we make will have lasting value. That’s what Lenten disciplines are—expressions of our intention to walk deliberately with Christ.
Looking back over the last few days of your life, what have you traded it for? When we allow Christ to direct our choices and shape our attitudes, we trade our lives for what truly matters.

Holy God, show me who you want me to be. By your grace help me to live into your dream for me, one day at a time. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Mark 8:31-38

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Lectionary Week
February 19–25, 2018
Scripture Overview

We cannot earn God’s love. Going back to the time of Abraham, God’s blessing has been based on faith. God chose Abraham for a covenant not because Abraham was perfect but because he believed God. The psalmist reminds his audience of their ancient relationship with God and expresses the hope that it will continue through future generations. Paul reinforces the centrality of faith in Romans. Following the law was not bad, but no one should believe that following the law could earn God’s favor. In Mark 8, Jesus pushes his disciples in their understanding of faith. Trusting God means surrendering everything, including position and reputation. If we value those things more than God, then we are not displaying the faith of Abraham.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16. No rules, just relationship. How comfortable are you in your relationship with God? Upon what does it rest?
• Read Psalm 22. Which verses are most familiar to you? In what ways does your faith journey live in the interplay of shadow and light?
• Read Romans 4:13-25. How easily do you live in God’s grace? In what areas do you find yourself “reckoning” your righteousness?
• Read Mark 8:31-38. When the world asks you who you are, what is your reply?

Respond by posting a prayer.

This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”

Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.