Yr C ~ Pentecost 10 ~ Luke 12:49-56
It has been said that one should never discuss politics or religion in polite company. But then, this isn’t polite company. This is church.
And in case you think I’m just making a flippant joke, I’m not.
Polite company is all about putting social graces above all else – about keeping things light and uncomplicated – about avoiding anything of substance or import for fear of ruffling feathers or causing people to feel uncomfortable.
If you think that’s what church is about, even a little bit, then I’d suggest that you’ve never been introduced to a guy named Jesus!
So today, we’re going to talk politics and religion. I’m going to start with a disclaimer. Nothing I say today will be partisan in any way, shape, or form. By that I mean that I will not be supporting or advocating for or against any particular Canadian political party. If you think I’m saying something about a certain party, well, that’s you reading into it.
I will strictly stick to principles. If, when you apply those principles you think it’s poking at your preferred party, then that’s something you need to spend time praying about.
This sermon will be entirely non-partisan. I’m Larry Doyle and I authorize this message!
Somehow, somewhere along the line, some people seem to have gotten the bizarre idea that Jesus and Christianity were only about being nice.
‘Do good deeds and earn your way into heaven’ is a shockingly simplistic and utterly incorrect view of what we’re about here.
Jesus doesn’t champion niceness – he champions justice.
And justice usually demands confrontation and conflict – because those who hold power and cause injustice (whether they realize they’re doing so or not) don’t like to be challenged or told they’re wrong – and they certainly are reluctant to just let go of the power they enjoy.
This group of topical sermons that I’ve been preaching this month has turned into an inadvertent series. We began two weeks ago by taking a look at all the components of our worship service, then last week we looked in depth at our mission statement. So we started with deepening one’s experience on a Sunday morning, then talked about deepening one’s experience as a disciple of Jesus and a church member, and today we’re talking about taking all that and applying it out there in the real world.
That’s a really important concept.
Church stuff isn’t just for church.
What we’re doing here is not confined to this hour, or this place. God’s clear call for us is for transformation – first of ourselves, and then of the world.
In Hebrew there’s a phrase – tikkun olam – which means any activity that seeks to heal and improve the world, and brings it closer to the harmonious state for which it was created.
In Greek there’s a word for the well-being of the world – for the building up of life, health, and sustainability of the city, our communities, and all within them. That word is polis – and that is where we get our word politics from.
Tikkun olam/the healing of the world, and polis/politics, are absolutely what we’re supposed to be about beyond this place.
We come here to feed our spirits and fuel our way.
We come here to open ourselves to transformation.
We come here to learn how to love God, love people, and love one another ever more deeply and fully.
And then – and this is the really important part – we take all that transformational love and head out from here and go out into the world and share it, apply it, wield it, stand on it, live it.
And here’s a promise for you. I promise that the moment you take your transformed (and transforming) self out there and try to live out the love, and worldview, and ethical stance, and heart for justice that Jesus teaches – as soon as you tune your heart to the healing of the world – as soon as you begin to apply your faith to your politics – well, you are going to encounter pushback, conflict, opposition, and, I’m sad to say, nastiness.
Listen to this scripture passage from Luke 12 again, this time from The Message translation of the bible. Jesus says:
49 “I’ve come to start a fire on this earth – how I wish it were blazing right now!
50 I’ve come to change everything, turn everything rightside up – how I long for it to be finished!
51 Do you think I came to smooth things over and make everything nice? Not so. I’ve come to disrupt and confront!
52 From now on, when you find five in a house, it will be – Three against two, and two against three;
53 Father against son, and son against father; Mother against daughter, and daughter against mother; Mother-in-law against bride, and bride against mother-in-law.”
54 Then Jesus turned to the crowd: “When you see clouds coming in from the west, you say, ‘Storm’s coming’ – and you’re right.
55 And when the wind comes out of the south, you say, ‘This’ll be a hot one’ – and you’re right.
56 Frauds! You know how to tell a change in the weather, so don’t tell me you can’t tell a change in the season, the God-season we’re in right now.
‘Gentle Jesus, meek and mild’ appears to be on holidays here.
Instead, we get a Jesus who is telling it straight.
Read the bible. I mean really read it. The main topics are not about where we’ll spend eternity. read on