I am sure we can all remember a time in our childhood when we wanted to be like someone else; I remember thinking that it would be really cool to drive an 18 wheeler like my dad; maybe we thought being like our favorite superhero would be the thing to do, fighting crime and keeping people safe… as you know, I love a good Batman story, and as I small child couldn’t wait to get home to watch Batman on TV.  I used to put on my very own Bat cape and mask to get ready to watch the show… as we get older, our thoughts about some of that changes; maybe a friend or a teacher or a boss becomes a mentor who we want to be like, or whose work we want to continue; even our visions of our favorite superhero change… I have given up the Batman of my childhood and replaced it with a much more serious, perhaps even darker Batman, whose days are filled much more with strategy and planning than they are in physical altercations with the bad guys.

We certainly need mentors and role models; we might even need the occasional hero, super or otherwise; and sometimes those mentors look like superheroes, whose successes seem out of our reach….

I never did learn to drive an 18 wheeler, and I don’t own a crazy tricked out supercar, utility belt or a black mask and cape; I suppose there is still time…but there have been people from various times and places in my life that I have wanted to be like… in some cases they had a serenity about them that I desperately wanted…  like my first AA sponsor who had been sober for a long time… I wanted the sense of calm that she had no matter what happened in her life; I wanted that peace that would help me to stay sober  no matter what… and so, I did what she did, and I made a choice to do what she told me to do… and it was never anything glamorous or high profile; she told me to make coffee for a meeting, I made coffee… I emptied trash, I did whatever I was asked in order to be a part of a larger community that possessed the gift of peace… I did the same thing when I first came to an Episcopal church… oddly enough, one of the first things I was asked to do was make coffee (sense a pattern here?) and so, I made coffee, and did all other sorts of things I was asked to do… in part because I again wanted the benefits of a community of believers… I wanted that peace that the church exhibited even in the midst of events that were anything but peaceful… but as my faith and my sense of what it meant to be a Christian grew and developed, I also knew that I wanted my role model to be Jesus…

Our reading today from Phillipians helps us to see a little bit of what this might look like.  Paul is advising the community, giving them guidelines for what it looks like to live as a community rooted in Christ. 

One of the things Jesus does is make a choice for humility; the one who could choose power and choose for his own gain, instead, makes choices for the good of others, and not just others, but for us as well.

Paul gives the community of Phillipi advice that I think would serve any community, especially one that follows Jesus.  He basically tells them to do what Jesus does; to use his life and his story as their model for action.

And so, Jesus is our role model and our mentor.  He gives us our blueprint for how we engage the world around us… and I think that engaging the world is the key to what it means to be disciples.

Let’s face it… there’s a whole lot of awful going on in the world; but that has always been true… since the beginning of time, humanity has chosen against the needs of others… fear, insecurity, greed… we know the motives that cause us to choose poorly, and we all have those sinful motives in us… we all want to be comfortable, we all want to be successful… and, there isn’t anything wrong with that… at least until we close our eyes, ears and hearts to the needs of others.   If we claim to follow Jesus, then must do the things that he did… we have to hand our will over to God so that we might do God’s will. 

God engaged the world in a personal way… one might even say that God engaged the world by giving absolutely everything, giving God’s very self by becoming human.  It is the ultimate engagement of the world  in a deep and personal way.

Engaging the world around us is so hard; we have a tendency to hold the world at arms length;  even my favorite superheros, who do amazing things, keep themselves at a distance to remain safe because they don’t want to put their personal selves at risk… 

You and I are called to do so much more.  We don’t need fancy cars or techy utility belts, but we do need the ability to be human… perhaps even superhuman, which we do by being vulnerable and by taking risks.  Engaging the world can be dangerous business and we can lose ourselves… and maybe that’s the point.  As I think about Jesus’ life and his ministry, I think he continued to take bigger and bigger risks as he continued to engage, to give more of himself to others… and some days what that meant had nothing to do with resources, but everything to do with personal, soul-deep risk; when Jesus engaged someone, they knew it… he gave of himself, in deeply personal ways where he could be taken advantage of… and ultimately, we know that kind of vulnerability led to his death.

What does it mean to have Jesus as your mentor?  I think it means we reach towards others the way he did… we love… we love others in such a way that we give up at least part of ourselves; we love those who we might not ordinarily love… it doesn’t even need to be extravagant… think about some of your favorite gospel stories; some of Jesus’ best moments are the personal ones where he touches the untouchable, gives hope to the hopeless, loves those that no one else loves; those moments tend to be personal moments between him and one other… moments where he gives of himself… and that’s a resource that we all have; we all have ourselves and we also have Jesus; those are our most precious resources..  

That’s today’s challenge… to go out and give over our wills and give of ourselves… our very personal, inner selves, so that others will know us, and will also know Jesus whom we seek to be like…so go… may we all go and show Jesus to others… may we give up our will, and show others the will of him who is ultimate hope, ultimate love… and may we know that love is ours so that we can engage the world.