Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; August 14, 2016

Scriptures for this Sunday are Luke 12:49-56

You can read these Scriptures here: {NIV2010 and ESV}

We live in times of division and hostility. These days it is easy to find or to instigate a heated argument between friends, colleagues, and even family. The easiest way to start an argument is to mention religion or politics.

There are also other points of contention in our lives: parenting, major life changes like marriage or divorce and remarriage, the birth of a child, the death of a loved one and resulting discussions about inheritance and how the family will heal the wounds and reinvent itself. These events put a strain on our psyche and challenge the very essence and limits of who we are. These events illumine differences that have always caused tension among humans; in times of stress and anxiety, when our emotions run high, these differences come to the surface and boil over. These events bring up to the surface the emotions that at other times we are able to control.

Today’s Gospel reading demonstrates that religion and politics have been points of contention as far back as the days when Jesus walked the earth. Today’s reading gives us a glimpse and a witness of that particular human condition.

Today’s reading gives us a glimpse of what it meant to the first followers of Jesus to believe that he was the Messiah. For most of them, that meant that they had to leave their family and friends behind to embrace an itinerate lifestyle. To make things worse, family and friends who were left behind thought that Jesus’ followers were either crazy or criminal. Who in their right mind would give up the safety and security of a steady occupation and life with family, to travel around arid Galilee with strangers begging for their daily bread. It was thought to be blasphemous to believe that you did not have to travel to the Temple on High Holidays to worship God. It was unthinkable that there was another way to worship God, and that God would come to dwell among us.

We live in a fallen world. That fallenness permeates every aspect of our lives to the point that we are distrustful and suspicious of people who follow their heart and their search for truth. We question those who are secure in their beliefs, and we assume that they do not see the BIG picture. We challenge those who are willing to take risks and we call them “dreamers.” We demonize and belittle those who choose to live and vote by different values.

We do all that – (act distrustful and suspicious, challenge other points of view, demonize and belittle those who espouse values different from ours) – because these differences play on our fears, they cause us to question our own commitments and beliefs. And none of us like to face our fears or be challenged in our beliefs.

{Illustration: Sign of Christian Education and maturity of faith is ability to consider and evaluate other points of view without espousing them as our own.}

When we focus on differences, we forget that life is not a competition. We forget that faith is not a contest.

Yes, we are fallen and sinful creatures, but God did not create us to grovel in the grime of our sin. God made us to live abundant lives (John 10:10) and to strive to be the best version of what we are created to be.

I may be naïve, but I think that the process of life is about being faithful to your understanding of God, while also making a commitment to learning how others see the Holy in the world around them. Faith is knowing what matters to you when it comes to God and being willing to hear what matters to others (Lewis). I think that we infuse our lives, faith, politics, and interpersonal interactions with who is right and who is wrong, at the cost of losing ideas and concepts that matter and the reasons why they matter. Were it not so, I think that our lives would be very different.

The words of Jesus that we heard today name our human condition: our propensity toward suspicion and discord, toward calling every person’s values and motives into question, toward doubt and distrust. Because we anticipate discord, we lose the will to work towards finding an agreement.

Today’s reading is calling us to look at the roots of what we believe to be right, true and beautiful. Jesus is naming the human tendency toward disagreement, and reminds us that building a Christian community relies on our commitment to listening. Today’s Scripture calls all the followers of Christ towards a different vision of what a world could be; a world where civil dialogue is expected and leads towards mutual understanding.

 

Works Cited

Lewis, Karoline M. “Division Matters.”  07 08 2016. Dear Working Preacher. http://www.workingpreacher.org/craft.aspx?m=4377&post=4698.  10 08 2016.

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