Luke 22:57 ÒWoman, I do not know him.Ó
Apparently if you canÕt find anything bad to say about a political figure, itÕs fair game to treat their pastors and religious associates as an extension of that personÕs character. ItÕs happening now to both Republican and Democratic candidates. As a person of the cloth, this is disturbing. Were I still serving a local church, it looks like I would have to pass out a comments sheet with every sermon so that those with political aspirations could formally register their dissent with any salient points.
Of course weÕd both have to sign the dissent after the service so that there would be a record that I had been properly chastised for my errant words. And I would have to be sure that all sermons and those forms were available online since it doesnÕt seem to matter if a parishioner is actually present to hear the words. In fact, I should probably attach such a form to SpiritWalkers, since in the current climate all of you could conceivably be harmed by being on my subscription list and receiving my heresies. Not only does free speech seem to be disappearing, but free listening as well.
As I was stewing over that nasty turn of events in this Holy Week, all of a sudden it dawned on me that it wasnÕt the first time that people have been attacked for their association with a radical religious leader. After JesusÕ arrest, the disciples knew that they would most probably be next. Peter wants to find out what is happening at JesusÕ night-long trial before the Sanhedrin, so he stays in a nearby courtyard, hoping for some word. But a servant girl recognizes him as one of JesusÕ compatriots. ÒThis man also was with him,Ó she says to the others. Peter, seeing he is guilty by association, denies even knowing Jesus.
Now, to put on the other hat for a minute, the servant girl was right. She was right that Peter was one of JesusÕ followers, and the broader implication that he might well be guilty of the same anti-establishment tendencies was also right. In fact, there would come a time when Peter, too, would be crucified for the same kinds of reasons. We are influenced by those we hear, and it is not illegitimate to wonder about those in a position to influence our countryÕs leaders. In some ways we have done too little of that in recent years.
But the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of the world are significantly different. The Bible in both the Old and New Testaments holds them in stark opposition, with competing goals and methods. When we hear views in church with which we strongly disagree, we hold that in tension with JesusÕ command to love our enemies. When the world looks in the stained glass windows, it wonders why we do not immediately bomb our enemies. Unable to understand without the power of the Holy Spirit, the world then decides that forgiveness is tantamount to complicity in sin. Those who love their enemies are then condemned and crucified.
On this Holy Saturday, the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of the world stand in their opposing corners. It is still dark. But the morning light will reveal who has won.
We follow you, Lord, to the death. May we also rise with you. Amen.
New social network! In my work as Executive Director of the Massachusetts Bible Society, IÕve created a new social network for those who relate to a broader view of biblical texts than fundamentalism represents. The design of the page will change when the new MBS website goes live, but itÕs open now for profiles to be posted and the site can be fully used. If you want to join us, sign up and post a profile at http://massbible.ning.com. For those of you already on the network, IÕve started a new discussion on hell. Join in!
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Be sure to check out my books: Blowing the Lid Off the God-Box and GodÕs Top 10: Blowing the Lid Off the Commandments. Order now on Amazon.com or check local bookstores.