by Pastor Ben Kerns
Encounter: Read Luke 7:1-10
One of the things I love that young adults are bringing to the table is their compassion, mercy and justice bent. Almost everything is seen through that lens, and their heart is to stand with the oppressed and leverage their power against the oppressor. This is always framed through Jesus teaching on the Kingdom of God and using Jesus righteous anger against the religious leaders, specifically in the 7 woes passage and Jesus turning over tables, as examples of this righteous anger.
I love this perspective and I love the way this pushes many of us older Christians past our comfort zones. Thank you for that!
As I was studying and preparing for Sunday's sermon, I couldn't escape the cultural and political chaos that is ever present on the news and on social media. We are living in a time where hatred is proving to be more and more ugly. And I am afraid that we are sliding towards a world view that makes hatred towards those who hate acceptable.
This is where Christians must distinguish ourselves. We hate what God hates, racism, bigotry, oppression, in all forms! But we do not dehumanize or hate the haters. Rather, we lean closer in to the one we follow, our rabbi, Jesus Christ.
Jesus teaches that we are to love our enemies, he models it in his ministry, and extended that to all of humanity in his death and resurrection.
The Centurion was the real life manifestation of the oppression the Jewish people felt during the time of Jesus. Jesus could have used this interaction to clarify what the Kingdom of God is all about and rebuke this soldier for being part of the problem and being totally opposed to the heart of God. But, Jesus didn't do any of that, rather he engaged with him, saw his humanity, affirmed his faith, and even preformed a miracle for him. Crazy!
If we are to be more like Jesus, how can we do what our rabbi does; engage with our enemies, affirm their dignity and their needs, and even be a blessing to them?
This is simple, Who is your enemy? What person individually, what group or demographic have you demonized and consider your enemy?
How can you engage that person or demographic? What needs to change in your world and in your heart to see their humanity?
BE A BLESSING:
What would it look like if you died to yourself and found a way to be a blessing to that person or to someone identified in the group that you are struggling with? In fact, why not do more than simply pray about it, but do something for them that blesses them.
This sort of work is too difficult for any of us to do on our own. We need encouragement and accountability to pull off this graduate level of spiritual formation. Who will you invite into this process?