How many times have you heard that God is love? How many stories have we heard about how loving, kind, and compassionate Jesus was, and is?
Yet, today, we heard Jesus say, “I’ve come to start a fire on this earth—how I wish it were blazing right now! I’ve come to change everything, turn everything right side up—how I long for it to be finished! Do you think I came to smooth things over and make everything nice? Not so. I’ve come to disrupt and confront!” That’s doesn’t sound like peace or love.
We could choose to pass over this piece of text because we don’t want to believe it or confront it or…we could sit down and think about what it was that Jesus was trying to say. So many times when we come upon a passage that hits too close to home or is too painful for us to consider doing we close the Bible and walk away saying it doesn’t apply to us today. That was only for that time when Jesus walked the earth in
But what if, we take His words to heart. Surely we’ve all experienced some division in our families because we don’t all agree philosophically or theologically or even politically. All of us have probably heard the saying about when people get together, “Don’t discuss religion or politics!” Both can be hot button topics and people can become very irrational over either of these or both.
What if Jesus meant for us to take these words to heart and he meant that we’re to be intentional in our discussion of the Way, the way of Jesus Christ even if it’s going to make people angry? Suppose he knew some things that we don’t know, imagine that. Suppose he knew that we needed to meet these topics about God, Jesus, and the Spirit and their intentions for the church and us head on and embrace the conflict? Could it be that’s the reason our churches are dwindling in size and influence? Could it be that we’re supposed to be more confrontational to the ways of the world?
Think about this. Jesus was an advocate for justice for all. Look at the world, the state it’s in, today. Is there peace? Is there justice? No, there’s conflict, there’s war, everywhere! People are being killed because they’re followers of the Way. Christian churches are being destroyed in
. It’s not only there but that’s
the part of the world we’re hearing about on the news right now. But it’s
happening everywhere Christians are in the minority and still worship a God who
loved the world so much that he sent his Son, Jesus, who after he ascended into
heaven sent his Holy Spirit to be an Advocate, a Counselor, a Comforter for us.
Because folks worship our Triune God so openly they are being persecuted,
families are being divided, sons and daughters are being disowned, thrown out
into the streets with nothing. Egypt
So, what choices do we make concerning our faith in our community? How do we speak about our faith to our friends and family? Do we make choices that don’t stir up the pot or make waves or ruffle any feathers? Or do we, will we, speak of what is true and honest about our faith? Do we hold our belief up against what the world offers?
If we choose to do nothing we’ve made a choice, albeit the wrong one in my opinion. If we would choose to speak honestly about our faith, our belief, what would that lead to? What kind of church would this be? Are we willing to be that kind of church and if so, how do we prepare for that kind of faith?
I don’t believe this means that we’re all going to agree about every little thing theologically, politically, or philosophically but we can agree to keep our minds open to different possibilities and let God lead and guide us along his Way.
Friends, if we continue to follow the way of the world eventually we’ll all be the same, monochrome, instead of a real, colorful community where diversity thrives and everyone finds their place.
Fullness of life in Jesus Christ is found in debate and discussion and in the sharing of different ideas and arguing over all of them. Maybe not with sword but definitely not with feathers either.
May God continue to stir us up. May we continue to come together to learn and discuss and worship the Prince of Peace even when we don’t all agree about how God does everything he does.
Thanks be to God for his wisdom and grace. Amen.