Hollidaysburg Church of the Brethren’s Pastor Marlys Hershberger delivered a sermon today about Peace Day that was so good and so challenging, that I can’t help but share her thoughts in my own words.
She began by saying, “Jesus is Stupid.” It’s the church version of a well crafted “click-bait” title. The thought “Jesus is Stupid” is inflammatory, but it makes you listen, doesn’t it? Of course, neither Marlys nor I nor most Christians think Jesus is stupid. Quite the opposite. But oftentimes our actions tell a different story. Marlys says that another way she’ll say this is: “Do you think Jesus is stupid? No? Then why act like what he says is stupid?”
As Christians, we claim that we follow Jesus. We claim that we love Jesus. We claim that Jesus is the core of our faith.
Then why don’t we actually listen to what he tells us to do? Why don’t we listen to him when he says to be generous with our material self and with our love? Why don’t we listen when he says to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick, and visit the imprisoned? Why don’t we listen when he says to love our enemies, and to overcome evil with good? Wy don’t we don’t we listen when he says to bring the kingdom to earth as it is in heaven? Why do we act like Jesus is stupid?
At every stage of our relationships with people – interpersonal, communal, national, global, and everywhere in between – Jesus says to treat one another with grace and love, and to overcome conflict with humility, meekness, and nonviolence, not domination.
It reminds me of the way we treat children. Has a child ever come up to you with something they were excited about, and you dismissed them by saying, “That’s nice,” with a pat on the head, and maybe pinning something to the fridge. The unspoken implication to “That’s nice,” is “but the world is complicated in ways that you simply can’t understand.”
Don’t pin the cross to the fridge. Don’t pat Jesus on the head and say, “That’s nice.” Don’t patronize Jesus.
Listen to him. And follow him.
Jesus was asked “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and he replied: ““Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” (Matthew 18: 3-5)
When we talk about peace, the impulse is to say, “That’s nice, but the world is more complicated than that.”
Do you think Jesus is stupid? Or do you think Jesus is wise in a way that our complications of the world fail to understand.
Happy Peace Day everyone! Follow Jesus.
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