The gospel reading this week in the Revised Common Lectionary picks up from last week – Jesus sending out the disciples – warning them of what might happen, and assuring them that they are not alone. In this passage the warning continues of what might, and in fact did, befall the disciples/apostles.
“A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household! “So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known.” (Matthew 10:24 – 26)
Last week, beloved reader, did you live out your life and the ministry you are called to with the best of intentions? What happened to you because of it? Were you maligned or spat upon? Were you called names or made ashamed? Were you in any way inconvenienced? Actually, me either. That does not mean we failed or fell short of what the Divine expected us to do. And that does not mean we are too comfortable or complacent in our lives. It may very well mean that family, friends, and people around us already know and expect us to live good authentic Christian lives. And while they may or may not share our beliefs, they accept us and know what to expect from us. Our “mere” staying the course may be a testament to our faith and the Divine.
“What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops.” (Verse 27)
I think/expect/hope/assume that out lives reflect the law of love and compassion that Jesus set down as an example. One of the concepts that I am trying to be mindful of this year is “gentle, compassionate, merciful belief.”
“Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.” (Verses 28 – 31)
Jesus did not tell his disciples to go out and grab people by the robe collar and pound the good news into them. In fact he said if those the disciples go to do not believe or accept the news they carry, they should shake the dust off their sandals and move on. You know, thinking about it, this “gentle, compassionate, merciful belief” might be more “embarrassing” and “shameful” then screaming and yelling, and “convicting someone of sin”. That term “convicting” is an old terminology meaning that someone is powerfully persuaded of the reality of their sins. It is pretty intense. I remember seeing and hearing “fiery” preachers doing just that. It was embarrassing and shameful on either side of the pulpit.
A gentle, compassionate, merciful belief – on the other hand – might look weak and the person espousing it a pushover. I know some people have under estimated my resolve because I seem so meek and mild. But never more than once! To paraphrase a now common saying – the Divine is strong in this one!
“Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.” (Verses 32 – 33)
So I guess, in reality, the title of this post in misleading – because many times modern Christian life probably will not make one embarrassed and ashamed. If, that is, we are living a community that functions like a faith circle, and is filled with like minded people living in harmony and peace. But remember Jesus said,
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Verses 34 – 38)
And we know there is not peace in the world. Nope, not even in my little corner of it. But I want to move on in my discourse, and try to parse out who should be embarrassed and ashamed. We will come back to this idea of peace.
If you are living a good and authentic Christian life in a community that values that . . . there is no embarrassment or shame. If you are not living a good and authentic Christian life in a community that values that . . . . there may be embarrassment and shame. If you are not living a good and authentic Christian life in a community that does not value that . . . . there is no embarrassment or shame. If, however, you are living a good and authentic Christian life in a community that does not value that . . . . there may be embarrassment and shame. It is this last instance that was the reality for the disciples/apostles. What sort of situation are you living in, beloved reader? Might you feel embarrassment and shame? Consider – does anything need to be done about that. And before you answer, remember . . . .
“Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.” (Verse 39)
In other words, if you have exchanged living a good and authentic Christian life in to avoid embarrassment and shame, you have lost your life.
Beloved reader, there is only one type of peace that is worthwhile and will last – the Divine’s peace. And if we are maligned, spat upon, called names, made ashamed, or even just inconvenienced because we espouse it and live it out – we have shared something awe-inspiring with the Divine! Shalom & Selah!