Christianity: Ain't Nobody Got Time For That?

Text: Luke 17:11-19

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

We Americans have become accustomed to a pit-stop way of living. Yes, like a car that has to make a pit stop on a racetrack for gas and new tires every so often, we understand that we have to make pit stops as well. For example, we Americans know that we have to go to the doctor or dentist from time to time. We know that we must go to a tax accountant once a year and so forth. But here is the catch, even though we understand that we have to tend to various things in life, if we have to do it more than once, well... they become an inconvenience. In other words, we don't like returning to these pit stops every time we go around the track of life. Let's be honest, who likes to hear that you must return to the dentist for a cavity filling? Who wants to return to the doctor's office for a follow-up visit? Who likes going back for a second tax appointment? You get the picture. 

Perhaps the reason why we hate these various inconveniences in life is that we Americans always seem to have bigger and better things that we must accomplish in life. There is always something more important and better on the horizon for us. We don't have the time to keep returning to certain people and places because we have so many other things we need to accomplish.

The marketers also do not help us with this either. You know what I am referring to; marketers will often appeal to our current status in life, and instead of getting you and me to appreciate all that we have, well... marketers stir our minds with covetous thoughts. They excite greed and discontentment within you and me so that we set out to try and get the next best thing or join the next best movement. In the end, a great majority of us are not very content to return to the gifts that we have already been given. We are often not full of gratitude for the things that we have but full of ingratitude for the things we do not have.  

And, so, again, to the point, we have these racing thoughts to get on with life to the next best thing. And when we get flagged that we have to pull over in life for another pit stop or inconvenience, in the words of a famous YouTube video, 

"Ain't nobody got time for that!"  

Now, I often wonder, when hearing the reading from the Gospel of Luke, why the other nine lepers did not return to Jesus after being healed. Did that one Samaritan Leper say: 

"Hey guys, we should go back and thank the Rabbi; we should return to Jesus to give Him thanks!"?  

And then did one of the other Jewish Lepers possibly respond by saying:

"What are you thinking? Ain't nobody got time for that!"?  

We may never know the exact details of why the nine healed lepers did not return to Jesus to give thanks and praise, but we do know that Jesus was not pleased with them.  

Dear friends, the unfortunate parallel is that we Christians have been given a great gift of forgiveness, life, and salvation from Christ Jesus. And frankly, the forgiveness that covers all of the sins of our whole life is far greater than any bodily cleansing for leprosy. "We have received, and are continually receiving, the riches of God's unmerited love and mercy Sunday after Sunday, day by day." [1]  And yet we are just like those nine lepers.  We often view Jesus and His gifts like a difficult pit stop. The thought of returning to Jesus is an inconvenient and untimely thing because we have so many bigger and better things to tend to in this life. The thought of having to return to Jesus Sunday after Sunday, day after day, well… deep down, our sinful nature says, 

           "Ain't nobody got time for that!"

I believe this is the reason why we Christians are so tempted to want to join quick and easy churches in America. Even in our Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, there is a temptation to make Jesus small, quick, and easygoing – a one-stop kind of savior. We want theology in a happy meal box, a simple easy-fix Savior, and a pastor with easy-to-go spiritual slogans - just enough spirituality to make Christianity like a quick pit stop. We want only a little bit of Christianity – not too much, for if Jesus is too big and Christianity is too serious, then it will become inconvenient or a distraction from other things that are supposedly so much more important. 

Tragically, we have bought into the mindset of that one religious speaker I heard long ago. Many years ago, at a conference, this gal had a pie chart on a screen with all of the different aspects of life shown as slivers and pie pieces of the circle. She then pointed to a smaller sliver on the pie chart and emphasized the importance of making Jesus a bigger part of our pie chart – a bigger part of our lives. Ah, dear friends, how misguided she was; how misguided we are. How flippant, superficial, and narrow-minded we have become! Jesus is not a small sliver in your life. He is not a quick pit stop in the race of your life. He is not an inconvenience. He can't be. Jesus did not die for sin and rise to life to become a small pie piece of your life. He was not crucified and resurrected to be a pit stop for you to launch to something else bigger and better! He is not like a nagging wife that is inconveniently calling you to make more time for Him. Heaven's no! Only a tiny and small fake god would do such things.     

Baptized Saints, Christ is not a part of your life; you are a part of His life. The life that you live is not your own; you have been crucified with Christ. You have been buried and raised in Him. He is bigger and certainly more powerful than you. As hard as ingratitude works to diminish Christ, in the end, Christ is Lord; He is your Master.   

Baptized Saint, remember that those lepers had nothing. They were nobody. They were already tasting death. But Jesus cleansed them. And so, everything they had, everything they were, was due to Christ. One moment – nothing. The next moment – everything. Why? Because of Christ and only Christ. And the same is true for you.  

Baptized Saints, the life you live is not your own, but it is lived by faith in the Son of God who loved you and gave Himself for you – to be your cleansing sacrifice. And so, you and I return to Jesus and return often because He is our fountainhead, source, and strength. Apart from Him, we can do nothing and are nothing. Jesus is not a means to another end; Jesus is the end for you and me. Why would we not return to the One who has done all things well for you and me? Bluntly stated, to not return to Jesus is foolish, just like it was foolish for the nine lepers to not return as well. But unfortunately, that is what ingratitude does – it creates fools.  

For the sake of making this very practical and very simple, consider your baptism. Here at St. Paul's, we do not speak of baptisms in the past tense, "I was baptized," as if we have moved past the reality of baptism. No, we speak of baptism in the present tense, "I am baptized." The reason is, your baptism was not a one-and-done past event. But instead, your baptism is a constant reality that you get to return to every single week and every single day. It is your identity.  

And think about the Lord's Supper. The Lord's Supper is not just a weekly Sunday morning inconvenience that ruins your weekend plans. No! This Lord's Supper is that which we return to often because it is here at this table that we have complete unity and a foretaste of the Kingdom to come, as we receive immortal life in the body and blood of Jesus. Remember, inconvenient things are things that we are not grateful for, and it is impossible to be ungrateful for the gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation given at this altar for you.  

Baptized Saints, return to Christ and His gifts often, for they are neither an inconvenience nor a small part of your life. Return to Christ often because it is where you belong. He has had compassion on you, snatched you from death, forgiven you of all sin, centers you in His mercy and Kingdom for all of eternity, and makes you well. 

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

[1] Paul Kretzmann Commentary on the New Testament (Electronic Version).

CLICK HERE to 'Like' on Facebook
CLICK HERE to 'Follow' on Twitter
CLICK HERE to Subscribe on iTunes
CLICK HERE to Subscribe on Podbean