The Pastor's Peace - July, 2014
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I am writing July’s Pastor’s Peace having just finished our Question Sunday in which the congregants write questions that I answer instead of giving a sermon. We had some great questions, and I hope exploring those topics was interesting for the writers and the congregation. Before I started answering the questions, I commented that one of the scripture readings for the day, Matthew 10:24-39, was one of my favorites to preach on. Now since we won’t get that scripture again for another 3 years, I figured I would take this Pastor’s Peace to give you a mini version of what I would have said.

This passage from Matthew is a favorite of mine, because it is a difficult one and thus is challenging to explore. In it Jesus claims that he did not come to bring peace but rather a sword! Now wait a second: Jesus is the Prince of Peace, so why would he say this? Sometimes this passage has been used to justify war and killing in the name of Christ, which I feel is contrary to the teaching of Jesus. Jesus speaks of setting members of a family against each other, especially along generational lines. What I believe is that Jesus is offering a radical path of love and peace and a relationship with God that is at great odds with the status quo of the time. In other words, if people really follow Christ, it is not going to be easy and it will disrupt and upset many. Jesus, however, was not here for a popularity contest, and he did bring
out the sword, the sword of the Romans through the crucifixion, and the swords of later generations who would oppress and kill his followers. The teachings of Jesus threatened the ways of those in power so much that they murdered to try to protect their views. Thus Jesus reminds those who follow him, that they too will pick up their own crosses and follow—a somber reminder to many early Christians that they would indeed lose their lives as Christ had, but that they would, in turn, gain life eternal.

Thankfully, in our community people are not trying to kill us because we follow Jesus, although there are still places in the world where people are killed or persecuted for following Christianity or a religion different from the majority. Even though we do not face the sword, I will state that the teachings of Jesus are still pretty radical, and sometimes when you follow them, it ruffles many feathers.

I would also say that the priorities of this world are often different from those of Christ, and we are tempted to be more concerned about things, that in the eyes of God, are of little importance. For me, I try to remember that following Christ is a journey and not a destination. Each one of us has periods of great adherence to Christ and days when we are greatly lacking in our devotion. Do not be discouraged, however; have faith, continue on your path, and know that you are not alone.

Peace and Blessings,

Pastor Brian