Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 34; 146, Genesis 42:1-17, 1 Corinthians 5:1-8, Mark 3:19b-35
If we are faithful to Jesus’ teachings, eventually someone will think we are at least a little crazy. It may happen at work when we say “I’m sorry, but this isn’t an ethical practice.” Or when we get arrested protesting injustice. It may happen when we tell church friends we feel called to something that makes no sense to them. Or when we tell secular friends we are joining a church and following Christ. It may happen when we invite a homeless person to the table in our home or church—and then we are not just crazy but reckless.
Despite those who would claim the United States is a Christian nation, our culture clings to many values conflicting with Christ’s teachings. Greed, corruption, abuses of power, and contempt for the poor and unfamiliar are as prevalent today as they have ever been – among the faithful as well as unbelievers. Christians are called to challenge these things when we encounter them. When our walk with Christ is faithful, we will find ourselves out of step with the world (and yes, much of the church) and labeled crazy when we fail to conform.
Jesus’ own family tried to restrain him when his preaching began to unnerve them. The scribes tried to claim he was possessed by demons. If we are to speak plainly and justly, we will inevitably make some people uncomfortable, and possibly angry. These may be people we love, or people in power. The nature of Christianity is revolutionary and counter-cultural, but even fellow Christians grow anxious when someone starts to take discipleship “too seriously.”
When our beliefs push us to the fringe of the larger culture, belonging to a supportive Christian community can give us strength. Jesus sent disciples out to spread the Gospel two by two. Travelling in pairs promoted their safety, but it also allowed for encouragement and accountability. Standing up for what is right can be dangerous and exhausting. The support of our family in Christ can help sustain us.
As Christians, we act justly. We speak plainly and truly to power. We are willing to appear crazy to the eyes of the world. We and God will both know better.
Comfort: The world may look at you askance, but God looks at you with love.
Challenge: Do something which you think it the right – but scary – thing to do.
Prayer: God of justice, you are my source and my life. May my words and actions always serve you. When my friends and enemies don’t understand me, teach me to show them Christ rather than shame. Amen.
Discussion: Are there times you let your need to be accepted overrule your call to act in faith? How has that made you feel?
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