Archive for June 22nd, 2008

22
Jun
08

The Great Divider by Miz Pink

Wooooopsie!

Little miss me was supposed to post something on Saturday. That’s supposed to be my regular day around here now (in addition to the twofer Tuesday thang) I could go blaming my girlfriend who is about to go through a divorce and wanted to hang out last night, but truth is I still had time to post something. But it probably woulda been crapiolio because I was fresh outta ideas. But church today gave me a nice gospel passage to talk about, so it’s all to the good now.

And what am I gonna talk about? Gospel o’ Matthew chapter 10, verses 24-39. I know, I know, a decent chunk of reading for the average American but you’re reading a blog so how average can ya be? You must like reading. But if you’re really pressed for time you can focus on verses 34 through 39 becasue that’s the controversial part…the part the really rankles some people. Including the woman who read that passage before today’s sermon at church. And the pastor apparently almost lost a close friendship a few years back talking about this passage. Here’s that thorny part by the way:

34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 “For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; 36 and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD. 37 “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.

As the liturgist today was fretting about verbally as she prepared to read the entire passage (which is about the meaning of discipleship), she even said, “I like to think that Matthew didn’t really understand what Jesus meant to say.”

And to that, I ask “why the heck not?”

I know it sounds harsh of Jesus to put it that way, but what’s wrong with putting the son of God, the savior of the world…and by extension his big daddy upstairs…ahead of your family? Are the creator of the universe and the guy who is responsible for making it possible for you to avoid eternal damnation some punks you should disregard? Isn’t their eternal cause…and the mission of evangelism and discipleship they put before us more important than any of our worldly concerns?

I’m not saying we should disregard our families and I’m not saying everyone should go out and spread the gospel while leaving their loved ones in the dust. But when you get down to it, that’s not what Jesus was talking about really.

Remember, he was preaching to guys and gals who were Jewish! Waaaay back in the day! To follow him and accept that he was the messiah when most people thought he was a fraud and a troublemaker (especially the saduccees and pharisees) was to put yourself at direct odds with your families. Most people had to basically reject what their families were telling them to follow Jesus. So, back then (and even for some time after Jesus rose from the dead, since the vast bulk of Isreal was still Jewish and not followers of Jesus and most of the Gentiles worshipped multiple other gods and goddesses) Christianity was a huge divider of families. But to embrace your family’s desires would have been to reject Jesus and thus salvation and redemption. Jesus was telling them it was a hard choice but a needed one. People had to choose sides and that meant pissing off family and friends and employers and even the leaders of society.

Today, the average Christian in the first world at least doesn’t really have to deal with that. Let’s face it. If you’re born into a Christian family in America or Europe or someplace else where Christians aren’t persecuted, your family isn’t likely to be divided much by your beliefs in Jesus. Though it is still possible. Maybe you have liberal Christian parents who think the entire Bible is just symbolic. Well then if you take a more fundie view, you might have to choose Christ over your kin. Doesn’t mean you have to reject your family but it does mean you have to be willing to incur their anger maybe to do the right thing. And if your family is Jewish or Muslim or Buddhist or Hindu or whatever else and you take up believing in Christ, well you can best be sure you’ll probably ruffle some feathers and maybe be unwelcome at family gatherings.

And how about not being in a Christian tolerant country  at all? Think of the missionary folks who go out to the Middle East or China or wherever to preach the gospel. They find people who hear and take the gospel to heart. Sometimes they get imprisoned and tortured and even killed for doing it. And the people they preach to may risk the same. Imagine choosing Jesus and not only having to face the wrath of your parents but also the wrath of you own country and police.

But Jesus is that importnat. Salvation is that valuable. Hearing and sharing the gospel is that important.

Jesus came in love…filled up with it…and he came as representative to us of God’s love for us. But he also was willing to tell us things that would make us queasy and shake us up, because choosing faith in Jesus and his Father and accepting the holy spirit aren’t easy things. They come at a price. But the reward is so much greater than the price.

Christianity is meant to bring humans back into grace with God. It aint meant to bring people together on Earth. It can. And ideally it should. But sometimes, it is impossible to do both. We shouldn’t hear Jesus’s words that he comes to divide as being counter to his mission. It’s a recognition that what he offers isn’t always an easy pill to swallow. But few things of true value in this world ever come easy. So why should something that is of the next world be any easier?

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Deacon Blue is the blogging persona of editor and writer Jeffrey Bouley. The opinions of Jeff himself on this blog, and those expressed as Deacon Blue, in NO WAY should be construed as the opinions of anyone with whom he has worked, currently works, or will work with in the future. They are personal opinions and views, and are sometimes, frankly, expressed in more outrageous terms than I truly feel most days.

Jeff Bouley

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