The Three R's of Unity: Part III - Responsibility

Once we form a relationship with the other members of our Body and learn to respect them for their individual abilities and spiritual walk we have to take RESPONSIBILITY for being true to our own spiritual walk.  We have to be open to hearing from the Spirit and following the Light wheresoever it may lead us.  We have the responsibility of trusting our relationship with God enough to let go of our personal fears, desires, plans and any cultural or family ties that stand in the way of following the Light.  As Quakers we have the opportunity to have our own understanding of what the Spirit is saying to the Church/Body distilled through the collective understandings of the Body itself to the point where at some point it becomes clear of what the correct understanding at that time and place actually is.   At such a point it is absolutely necessary for unity that we act in a responsible manner and accept that understanding.  If for some reason we don't and we continue on that path of rejection we undermine the respect others have for us and any progress we might have made in being a unified body is endangered.

Matthew 8:22 speaks to this point but in the Old Testament I think the calling of Elisha shows our dilemma more fully:

1Ki 19:19  So he departed thence, and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah passed by him, and cast his mantle upon him.
1Ki 19:20  And he left the oxen, and ran after Elijah, and said, Let me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee. And he said unto him, Go back again: for what have I done to thee?
1Ki 19:21  And he returned back from him, and took a yoke of oxen, and slew them, and boiled their flesh with the instruments of the oxen, and gave unto the people, and they did eat. Then he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.

Though Elisha did not drop everything to follow what at that time and place was the Light calling him, he took action to make sure he could not easily return to his old ways by destroying the very implements of that old life.  This is probably a foreshadowing of what Jesus was asking Peter in John 21:15, 16 & 17: Do you love me more than your friends(his fellow disciples); more than your possessions (the fish); your means to a livelihood (boat and nets).  After Peter acknowledged that he did it was at that point that we read " Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. "  Unity requires such an act and is such a Master.  It calls us to places we would not go, often with people not of our own choosing. 

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Comment by Forrest Curo on 3rd mo. 20, 2017 at 7:53pm

"Following" Elijah would mean following his example, which Elisha is simply doing.

Elijah follows God's instructions to him as a prophet; so does Elisha, beginning with this sacrifice (entirely in the tradition of previous leaders of Israel, though it would be technically be considered a violation of the restrictions later added to "Moses' " law by the priests of the Jerusalem Temple. Hence the writer of this passage doesn't call the act what is clearly is.) And then Elisha follows more literally, but as more than "a follower."

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