LIVING AS DISCIPLES OF CHRIST - FR. LANCE SCHMITZ, ST. AUGUSTINE OF CANTERBURY EPISCOPAL CHURCH, OKLAHOMA CITY
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of each of our
hearts be acceptable in Thy sight O God; our strength, our
redeemer, and our one and hope. AMEN
A fastball -
If feels like every moment of our day is filled by all manner of
information being hurled at us faster than a major leaguer throws
When you stop to think about it, how many times everyday
are you confronted/accosted by people, places, and things telling
you what you need to buy, believe, purchase, belong to; so that
you can be a happy person, an included person, a valuable
It comes at us through tv, radio, websites, apps, social
media. Everyone, everything, everywhere is begging to lay claim
to a piece/moment of your attention. It is exhausting and
Political parties, organizations, products, advertisers are all
needing/wanting/begging you to buy/believe/take hold of whatever
they are selling.
They need you to be formed/shaped by their story so you
can be counted on as a reliable consumer of whatever product,
person, ideology they’re selling.
This isn’t wild eyed conspiracy, but it feels like that
sometimes. It is just a business/political model that works really
When you harness the power to shape opinions / you shape
persons, when you shape advertising / you shape consumption.
When people are shaped they become another reliable and
usable consumer to further a cause, belief, or bottom line.
We swim everyday in these deep warm waters of subtle
manipulation, we drink unknowingly from these seemingly
refreshing wells and the end result is they craft who we are and
the ways we think.
It is with the introduction of computer algorithms these
questions of belief/identity get even more muddled and
Algorithms are computer programs that take large swaths of
data about a person based on all manner of things. They are
super helpful with helping us to figure out things, but there is a
shadow side to these things.
This gathered information is interpreted; sold and used by all
sorts of groups and some of them harness this information to
identify and manipulate you as a person/consumer/citizen.
Our information that we voluntarily and sometimes
unwittingly give up is used to sell, shape, and motivate us in ways
we don’t/can’t fully understand.
The purchase we make, the places we go, the websites we
visit, the news we watch/listen too, everything we do puts out to
the world information about us and projects an image of who we
This data we give up gives energy/information to groups,
business, and people who deeply want our attention. It is subtle,
it is nuanced, and it moves in mysterious ways we don’t often
We often become who we are not though one or two big
choices but the culmination of a bunch of little things.
Sin works like that too, it is the poor/bad choices we make
each day that nudge us slowly down a road where one day we
wake up and ask “How did I end up like this?”
The impressions we give, shapes the information we
receive. The way we live shape how we are perceived.
All of this attention stealing/grabbing will shape/inform/
reinforce how we interact with the world around us and what we
give back will either be joy or pain to the world.
We disciples of Jesus Christ have made a choice...been
commanded to live into a certain way of life, that is shaped by the
person of Jesus Christ.
We know we are called to be a specific type of people/
person for the sake of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ;
and oft we fall short.
We know that we are to be shaped into a way of life informed
by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Disciples of Jesus have been called to lives of meaning and
purpose where we give and share the good news of God’s love
and forgiveness to a world around us.
Let’s be honest, it is hard to live into this way of life. It is
difficult because everyday/everywhere images and information
are coming at us telling us this is what it means to be a good
“person, citizen, consumer, political party member, etcetera
We haven’t often seen the way of Christ modeled well, so it
becomes easier and easier to live into another way of being that
is contrary to Christ.
It leaves us weary to the point of exhaustion; so much of the
time we are running as fast as we can to stay in place.
We live in a world that seems wired to create and craft
peculiar boundaries and troubling systems that keep people and
persons in their place. We have economies and structures that
thrive on tidy partitions that keep folks apart.
There are indeed forces at work in this world that have been
created by us and used by us to do certain sorts of things, and
ofttimes these creations end up controlling us, and we aren’t even
aware of it.
So how then do we as Christian people, as good news
sharing disciples of Jesus/ Christ live? How do we live authentic
lives of deep mercy and flagrant hope?
How do we swim against the raging current of a world hellbent on
destruction? What shall we do to confound the world with the life
changing nonviolent revolution begun by Jesus Christ?
Living as disciples of Jesus Christ means live intentionally,
we live lives that confound and confuse.
We lives lives that go against the grain, and we confound the
algorithms, voices, and parties who seek to call us to a way of
being that looks nothing like the person of Jesus Christ.
We confuse the machinations of a violent world by
remembering our true calling as disciples and live into our story/
our calling as purveyors of grace in a world bent on vengeance.
When we as disciples of Jesus Christ take seriously the call
to remember and live out the hope of Deuteronomy we stand firm
against the raging tide of a world gone mad in its lust for power,
wealth, violence, and excess.
Sisters and Brothers...God is our God, a deeply relational
being. God isn’t some far off deity, God has chosen to be in
relationship with us and hasn’t left us to ourselves.
God knows that our lives are hard and God has called us to
shave away the thick calluses from our heart and because it is far
to easy for us to harden our hearts to the world and forget to love.
It is easy to forget these world shaping truths we find in
Deuteronomy, we lose sight who we are and we ignore that God
doesn’t play favorites and doesn’t call us to either.
God won’t and neither should we get caught up in messy
sketchy dealings, that take advantage of others or defraud others
in the name of protecting the bottom line.
To live as disciples of Jesus Christ and living out the truth of
our reading from Deuteronomy means that we ensure that
orphans and widows(a poetic and truthful way to say those
without power) are treated fairly.
We are called to defy the way things are and live into the
ways things ought to be by extending loving care towards those
people who others have deemed damnable to the margins of
acceptable society and making sure that they receive those good
things which they are due as children of God.
Jesus helps us to be who we are called to be as God
created children of the most high. Jesus our teacher, our guide,
our messiah, and God in the flesh gives us THE way to live.
We have been called by Jesus to give no heed to the world
shaping lie/algorithm/opinions that say ‘Love your friend,’ and its
unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’
Jesus challenges that, Jesus goes way off script is and tells
us to love our enemies. In our efforts to love the keepers of the
status quo will challenge us and our response ought bring out the
best in us, not the worst.
Stop reacting with hostility when someone causes you a
hard time, and instead respond with crafty moves of prayer/grace.
When we respond in grace/love/peace we conspire with God
to defy the way things are and live into our true selves, our God-
created selves and heal the world.
Loving the wounded, the hurt, and the forgotten that is what
God does. God gives God’s grace to everyone, regardless: the
good and bad, the beautiful and ugly, the worthy and unworthy.
If all we do is welcome the lovable, does that make us any
Anyone can love the lovable that is our default. If we simply
treat well those we like, do we expect a medal?
We have been called by God in Jesus to stand in a stark
opposition to the way that things have always been and deepen
our connection to God by living into our calling as disciples.
As we do this we learn to love ourselves and others more,
and we get better at it. Our commissioning as disciples of Jesus
Christ means that we resist/confront the powers and principalities
of this age that do deep harm to persons/creation.
Sisters and brother we have been drafted/conscripted/invited
into the way of life that goes against the grain/defying the opinion
and world shaping algorithms. My hope this day is for you to live,
and live well as disciples of Jesus Christ.
I say to you what the prophet, poet, and singer Rich Mullins would say often.
"So go out and live real good and I promise you'll get beat up
real bad. But, in a little while after you're dead, you'll be rotted
away anyway. It's not gonna matter if you have a few scars. It will
matter if you didn't live.
It’ll matter if you didn’t live." AMEN
~Fr. Lance Schmitz, St. Augustine of Canterbury Episcopal Church, Oklahoma City
Various Clergy and members of St. Augustine contribute to authoring the blog on a variety of topics.