Epiphany – Year A
There is still a passion to save souls that makes a huge difference in the energy of a congregation. While admitting that such energy has gone astray by emphasizing a passing on of accumulated cultural norms, the power that is available in the phrase, "for the sake of . . ." is amazing. A trick here is to have that desire be in relationship and a willingness to be as changed as one is looking for change in another. A one-way "for the sake of" becomes tyranny.
I'm not holding my breath for a congregation to claim the name of For the Sake of . . . Church, but I would hope that such a sentiment would be more imaginatively held by congregations than automatically forcing "Jesus" to be the ". . .". Usually we would say, for the sake of Christ we do . . . . Here we can say, for the sake of lesbians we will . . . , for the sake of immigrants we will . . . , for the sake those uncovered by health insurance we will . . . , and find this specificity to lead us to a larger community that receives and offers prevenient justice and redeems violence already committed.
There can be real and artificial humility in seeing oneself as "the least". A measure of it is how adamant one is about imposing guilt on another when they don't respond to what-I-have-done-for-their-sake. To simply be persistent in living/loving for another's sake is a worthy humility. To demand they act on our timeline turns that humility sour.
Paul reminds the Ephesians that they have access to G*D in boldness and confidence through faith in Jesus. That is one pole of the double great commandment – to boldly and confidently love G*D with all of one's heart, soul, mind, and strength.
The line about "for the sake of . . ." is our entry into the other pole – to boldly and confidently love our neighbor as we love our self. If we need to we can also ground this in having faith in Jesus.
Here Jesus again acts as a catalyst in binding our life to that that of G*D and Neighbor. It may be that faith is best seen as a catalyst that enters as leaves situations as trust.