Monday, April 30, 2012

T or F: Jesus was a peace-maker

I chose this statement in light of this post. Also, I chose it in light of a struggle I have had lately, after being told that "I can be offensive at times."

I especially like the line, "He’s relentless in His desire to offend the sensibilities of self-righteous people."

Before I get to me, let's think about Jesus. When I think of the Jesus of the gospels, I can think of many issues of Jesus the peace-maker. He brought about peace through his words, through his healings, and ultimately through his death. But I also see much of Jesus the offender of sensibilities. He not only confronted the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, but often his own disciples as well. He called Peter "Satan." He told the masses they must pick up their crosses if they want to follow him. He told his disciples they must become like children if they want to enter his kingdom, he told a rich young man to sell all he had. The list goes on.

Jesus was not concerned about gathering a large number of disciples around him just for the sake of numbers. In fact, he often said offensive things for the seeming purpose of weeding out those who only wanted to fill their bellies. Yes, Jesus was a peace-maker, but he was often offensive in the process. How ironic to us!

I am not Jesus, I know that. But I desire to be like him. So I know that I must sometimes be the peace-maker. But what about being offensive? Could I, should I, ever be offensive?

I will share one story, you tell me if I was out of bounds. We had been attending a church for well over a year. I had questions about the pastor's sermon content and specific statements he had made from the pulpit. I tried talking to him, but he became offended and wrote me a letter suggesting that if I did not like his sermons, perhaps I should find another place of worship. Elders spoke to me, telling me that we need to get along, be unified, but never addressing any of the questions or concerns I had. At one point, I chose to wear headphones during the sermon, and see what happened. Answer: Nothing. Even though the pastor saw me, as well as several of the elders, no one said a word. I was not spoken to until I started attending a small group. I was then told that my comments at group were out of line, and I was asked to "find another place to worship." Long story short, I am now looking for another church home.

At the meeting where I was asked to leave, one of the elders said he had been told I had worn headphones at one of the services. Truth is, he had been one of the ones to see me do so from the front of the service. He asked me what I was listening to. I told him, "sermons from other preachers." He chose this time to confront me, and asked if I thought this was right. I told him that all of my efforts to engage in conversation has been ignored. Was that right?

I admit that I have said some offensive things over the years. But sometimes the truth hurts. Maybe this particular incident was wrong, maybe not. I still struggle with the whole deal, but what do you do when people just bury their heads in the sand and condemn you, but when you ask what is wrong they just speak in vague generalities about how your conversation does not promote unity. Or how when you ask them if they can articulate what they are accusing you of, they can't. They just know that they are uncomfortable.

Jesus made a lot of people uncomfortable. Jesus makes me uncomfortable sometimes. I am okay with that. In fact, those seem to be the times that lead to the most growth, if I don't stick my head in the sand.

I recall one instance of Jesus saying he did not come to bring peace, but a sword. That is a tough teaching. It makes me uncomfortable. But it can bring me peace too. Peace in the aftermath of the struggle. Real peace.

1 comment:

Steve Scott said...

Gee whiz, dude. At least you didn't lay on your side in your underwear for nine months on the sidewalk in front of church.

"I tried talking to him, but he became offended..." "...perhaps I should find another place of worship." "Elders spoke to me." "...we need to get along..." "...but never addressing any of the questions or concerns I had..." "...not spoken to until I started attending a small group." "...told that my comments at group were out of line." "...all of my efforts to engage in conversation has been ignored." "...speak in vague generalities..." "...if they can articulate what they are accusing you of, they can't."

This is just a bad script that seems to recirculate. Same old story again and again. Predictible. No originality, even. But YOU'RE the one who is wrong, of course. And, no I don't think you were out of line.