Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”
When Jesus encountered people, be it rulers of the synagogue,commanders of armies, people who came for healing or women who touched his cloak or met him at the well, whatever their needs or demands, Jesus insisted that they "put some skin in the game." He invited folk to take a risk.
He asked the rich young ruler to sell what he had...
He asked the centurion to go and find his daughter healed...
He asked a blind man: What do you want?..
He asked the woman who touched his cloak to reveal herself...
He asked the woman at the well to go and call her husband...
Risk was simply a given on the journey to wholeness with Jesus.
And we, who proclaim good news today, tend to minimise that risk far less embrace it for ourselves.
We, who long for change, long to see change in others.
Jesus makes it clear that realising the kingdom of God involves us having skin in the game, embodying the change we want to see.
But we will always find reasons, aka excuses that hold us back from effecting change.
We'll blame the institution of the church.
We'll blame the complacency of those who have gone before us.
We'll blame the shifting culture.
We'll blame - almost anything that stops us facing up to the reality of the task that is ours.
If we won't take risks now, then when?
It is in risking that we make space to encounter.
And we'd rather cloak ourselves in our busyness, sacrificing our wholeness to save the church than risk creating space into which God might speak and through which we might discern God's call and God's purpose for our life.
That call and purpose is not to look busy because Jesus is coming, but to step back from the melee that is often ministry in the church.
To risk not simply alerting others to the need for change but to embrace change ourselves.
To risk that all the things we hold dear, the programmes, the activities, the things that give us worth, without which we will be exposed and vulnerable, yet open to God, can be dropped without fanfare.
To risk that all that we wrap around us as signs of our awesomeness and productivity are ineffective at best and life destroying at worst,
To risk doing less so that God can speak into our lives and the life of our communities and to recognise that, though we have often acted as though we do, we are not the moderators of the unpredictable spirit of God!
To risk that others may take up some of the things that we lay down - and do them better than we can.
And that some of the things we lay down don't really matter to the kingdom of God and that it Is right to let them go.
In this time of uncertainty and change, there's a call for us all to "put some skin in the game" not for the sake of the church but for the sake of the mission of God.