Let the dead bury the dead

Jul 25, 2016 by

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I came to the church meeting distraught by all the negative, hateful messages that had consumed me from following too many political commentaries on social media. Those of us gathered around tables chatted away while waiting for the meeting to begin. As I ranted and raved about the political mess in which our country is embroiled, a brother beside me looked me in the eyes and said: “Let the dead bury the dead.”

This really caught me up short. I immediately knew what he meant. The verse he quoted comes from Luke 9:60, and follows with the exhortation: “go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

The political scene as it is playing out in the U.S. has distracted me far too much. Hearing and reading the discussions of others, I can safely assume that we are all too distracted. Our business as Christians is to get on with Jesus’ kingdom work, proclaiming the good news. Jesus gave us the formula for this proclamation in his inauguration address in Luke 4:18-19:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

During the same weekend of the church meetings, I listened to a podcast of an interview of Xavier Le Pichon by Krista Tippett on her radio show “Onbeing.” Pichon is a world-renowned geophysicist and a devout Christian. After discovering that the continents are dynamic and moving instead of being static, Pichon was at the top of his career as a scientist. However, in his middle thirties, he became disenchanted by how his work consumed him, and how he was “not seeing people in difficulty and suffering.” To alleviate what he called his “spiritual crisis,” he went Calcutta, India, to work with Mother Teresa for six weeks. From this experience, he ended up working for a community of L’Arche for three decades; a community that works with severely disabled people.

Pichon went from being a world-renowned scientist to cleaning the diapers of people who for the most part have been pushed out of view to the margins of society. He left the comfort of his cushy job and fame to serve “the least of these.” He is a model of one who “let the dead bury the dead,” to carry out Jesus’ mission to “bring good news to the poor.” He is proclaiming God’s kingdom and making God’s kingdom “come on earth as it is in heaven.”

It seems to me that we would be a lot less stressed during these anxious times if we would be about the work of God’s kingdom, instead of trying to solve everything through allegiance to a false empire.

During the interview, Pichon stated that he spends one-two hours in prayer every day. This is what sustains him to continue to work with the challenges of the severely disabled. This is also part of kingdom work. If I spent as much time in prayer as I do on social media, I’m sure my anxiety about the political mess would abate significantly.

Let the dead bury the dead, and go and proclaim the Kingdom of God.

Don Clymer is an assistant professor in the language and literature department at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va. He is also a writer, spiritual director and leader of intercultural programs in Guatemala and Mexico. He blogs at Klymer Klatsch, where this originally appeared.


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