Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Thirteen, Wednesday

In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.

Read Matthew 10: 16-42

When the disciples were sent out by Jesus, they had no idea how radical would be their message or their Messenger. As Jesus prepares them to spread out and serve side by side, he speaks provocatively and proactively to them. One can only imagine the surprise look on their faces when Jesus makes it clear: they would be sent out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, Jesus urges them to be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. They were to be on guard against men, for brother will betray brother; father his child; children will rebel against their parents.  In fact, Jesus says, all men will hate you because of Me. Following Jesus as 1st Century disciples was filled with suffering, challenge, and hardship, as well as all the miraculous healings, releases from bondage, and abundance of spiritual vitality in Christ.

This is not the kind of message disciples of Jesus in the 21st Century like to hear. We prefer hearing that following Jesus will take us into lands filled with milk and honey, where we will prosper in worldly ways in order to fulfill the dreams we’ve been taught from childhood to pursue: upward mobility in education, wealth, influence and possessions. But, when we look carefully at the biblical Gospel accounts, we don’t see anything like that whatsoever. In fact, quite the contrary. Jesus makes it clear,“Anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

The Gospel of Jesus requires our full selves in full obedience being fully sold out to fully extend ourselves, so that the message is richly proclaimed in both word and deed. God is love, and when we receive his love the discipleship we’re invited into is a whole life devoting our entire life to give our complete life away…to Jesus, for Jesus, and all because of Jesus.

Jesus’ outstretched arms of love were opened fully for his disciples to receive. Their lives were transformed from the moment they met Jesus, and their desire to follow him was enhanced over time as they saw him in action.  But, living with and for Jesus required each of them to give all of themselves. No turning back. Nothing withheld. No holes barred. No compromise. No love for another more than Jesus. No other life was theirs to live but the one Jesus offered and empowered.

What about you, friend? Freely you’ve received, will you now freely give? His arms are outstretched toward you, will you welcome the loving embrace of Jesus? Will you give all for the sake of the cross of Christ, the very destination we’re heading toward this Lenten season? Behold Jesus giving his disciples immersion training in discipleship; believe that life and ministry in Jesus is always worth the cost; belong to the fellowship of the suffering; and become a disciple committed to living wholly for Jesus.

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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

The Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Macchia is founder and president of Leadership Transformations, Inc. (LTI), a ministry serving the spiritual formation, discernment, and renewal of leaders and learners since 2003. For more than 20 years he has been the Director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Doctor of Ministry Program. From 1989-2003 he was the president of Vision New England, the largest regional church renewal association in the country. Earlier in his ministry life, Steve was a member of the pastoral staff of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts for 11 years. He is the author or co-author of 17 books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective), and Crafting a Rule of Life, Becoming A Healthy Church (LTI), and Broken and Whole (IVP).  He and his wife Ruth live in the Boston (MA) area and are the proud parents of two married children and grandparents to three adorable grandchildren. Steve’s personal website is www.SteveMacchia.com.

My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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Mitzi Mak

Selah-West Faculty

Mitzi started her professional life as a high school social studies teacher. She and her husband Jerry then served cross-culturally for ten+ years, living abroad first in India and then Kurdistan, N. Iraq. In addition to being a Spiritual Director, she now serves as a Formation and Care pastor in her local church in Houston, TX. She has graduated from LTI’s Selah Spiritual Direction training as well as LTI’s Emmaus Formational Leadership Program.

Mitzi enjoys engaging conversation, reading fiction, doing jigsaw/crossword puzzles, ocean gazing and exploring the world with Jerry through food and travel.

God has two main callings in Mitzi’s life: to care for those who care for others and to be a guide in helping others have a healthy relationship with the Trinity – recognizing God’s loving presence and activity in their lives and how to faithfully respond.

Selah was a transformative experience for me – allowing the contemplative within to emerge and to beautifully co-exist with my extraverted personality.