COLUMN: Warning — Continued exposure will change you

Published 10:59 pm Monday, July 17, 2023

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“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” John 15:4

“Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise.” Proverbs 13:20a

I had the privilege of serving on one of our fast attack submarines. Since they are all nuclear powered one of the first items I was issued was a dosimeter. A dosimeter measures the amount of radiation that you are exposed to. It sounds ominous and it should because it’s a serious matter. 

But the reality is that we’re all exposed to radiation from different sources like the sun. The amount of exposure that we get is based on several factors including the strength of the radiation source, our proximity to the source, shielding and the amount of time we’re exposed. That’s why your doctor wants you to wear sunscreen at the beach. It shields you from radiation exposure from the sun! But spend enough time out in the sun and you will still notice the impacts of your exposure.

The same principles apply to being an effective disciple or follower of Jesus. Continued exposure to Jesus makes us more like Jesus. Exposure makes us better disciples. Jesus uses the word abide. He invites us to abide in him and he promises that when we abide in him it will change us so that we bear fruit in our lives. Exposure makes us better disciples. Solomon simply says “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise.” Is there anyone wiser than Jesus? Is there anyone more loving than Jesus? There is a reason that crowds of people flocked to Jesus throughout the Gospels. He is the source for all that we need and exposure makes us better disciples.

So if we’re trying to maximize our exposure we need to minimize our distance, eliminate shielding and maximize our time. We minimize our distance from Jesus by meeting him in the places he has promised to be. In his exalted state Jesus fills all things but he promises to work specifically in his Word and Sacraments. 

We eliminate the things that shield us from Jesus not by throwing them all away but learning to trust Jesus instead of our career, bank accounts, hobbies or friends. We maximize our time with Jesus by inviting him into every facet of our lives. We won’t be effective disciples if we’re only following him on Sunday morning. We need to involve him in every aspect of our lives.

Continued exposure will change you. It will make you more like Jesus. That doesn’t mean that you won’t suffer and die. Jesus did both. It does mean that you can have peace in the midst of the storms that surround you in this world and rise triumphant over death on the last day to shine like Jesus.

REV. MATTHEW SORENSON is the pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church. He can be reached at