by Bruce Reyes-Chow
Gospel Reading: Luke 14:24-33
For Sunday, September 8, 2013: Year C – Lectionary 23
There are few things in life more difficult that standing up against a friend or family member about anything: religion, politics, family systems, etc. Yet there is no mistaking Christ’s call to us in this passage to remember that even above personal relationship, power or possessions, Christ must take precedent.
Easier said than done, Mr. Jesus.
Let’s not kid ourselves. It’s easy to say, “Jesus Christ and his teachers guide my every step, action or thought,” but when it comes right down to it, most of us want to be liked by other people, especially our family, our co-workers, our neighbors, our friends and on and on.
So when one member of our circle does or says something that causes us to doubt another person’s motives, intentions or actions, we have a choice to make: are we loyal to that person, no matter what…or are we faithful to Christ above all?
High Tension Topics
This tension always pops up for me when it comes to how we engage in conversations about passionate “hot button” social issues such as homosexuality, racism, sexism, etc. So often I see people for whom I have great affection act in ways that go very much against the ways in which I think Jesus hopes for us to act towards our “enemies.” Rather than clothe, feed and bless their enemies, they spew hatred, mockery and dehumanizing rhetoric right back at them.
Granted, they probably feel the same way about me, thinking I am soft of conviction, lacking in passion and even acquiescent to the enemy, but therein lies the dilemma: are we to be loyal to one another giving a “pass” because we are friends or are we faithful to Christ challenging one another even to the point of risking the relationship?
Do we speak, challenge, risk?
Now in most cases, the choices are not so stark or easy, but if you are like me, you know when they are in front of you, so there are some choices to make in how we respond. Do we speak up against our friend, do we challenge the actions of our mothers, do we risk division of a friendship?
In the end for most of us, these decisions will not mean that we shun people when we disagree about a social issue nor will we take it upon ourselves to reign down God’s fiery judgment because we think the other is make grave errors in judgment, rather the choice is whether or not we allow these relationship to ultimately trump what and how Christ is calling us to be in the world.
The Hardest Question
These are the kinds of questions that Jesus demands us to address if we are going to be faithful followers and disciples. But the bottom line is: Do we allow ourselves to step into that space of faithfulness that Jesus calls “hate” that may even be directed towards us?
Like I said, earlier, easier said than done.
Bruce Reyes-Chow is a San Francisco based writer, speaker and consultant who muses on faith, race, parenting and technology. Through his experience as a pastor, organizer and blogger he is committed to expressing a Christian faith that is beautifully complex, unimaginably just and excruciatingly gracious. Bruce is a frequent event speaker and is the author of the eBook, The Definitive-ish Guide for Using Social Media in the Church (2012), and But I Don’t See You as Asian: Curating Conversations about Race (2013). You can connect with Bruce at www.reyes-chow.com or via @breyeschow on most social media sites