I’ve always found it to be rather ironic, that old adage, “Don’t talk politics or religion at a dinner party.” The problem is, scripture is political. Christianity exists because the government was afraid of losing its power; and the people were afraid of defying the government, and well, they wound up killing Jesus, the Prince of Peace. And here we are today, yet again facing a political crisis. Our leaders are not on the same page, they’re in a stalemate over decisions that are negatively impacting not only Americans, but citizens all around the world. And the rest of us commoners, we’re at each other's throats because we’re so wound up in our personal opinions, we’ve forgotten how to play nice. And the truth is, no matter what we’re doing; if we’re pumping our fists and loudly shouting our patriotism, if we’re making signs and marching to state capitals, or if we are avoiding the news at all costs, because we simply don’t want to hear it… we have to do better. And if that makes us uncomfortable, good, because the story of Jesus is uncomfortable.
Quite brilliantly, and quite often, scripture presents the analogy of one being lost. We’ve all been there at one time or another, we’ve all lost something. And many of us, at one time or another, have likely been walking through a crowded space, thinking our child is right in step with us. But when we turn around, our child is gone. Panic sets in as our eyes frantically search the crowd. And when we finally spot him or her, we are overcome with relief, we sigh heavily and relax our tightened posture. These emotions make perfect sense. Children are our greatest blessing, we love them, we’d do anything for them, and when we think something could happen to them, the world comes to a screeching halt, nothing else matters. As parents, we have an unwavering instinct to protect our children. It’s no mistake that Jesus happens to be holding a child while confirming for his disciples who is the best among them, “If any one of these are lost, the kingdom of heaven is incomplete.”
Imagine for a moment that you are living in unthinkable conditions. Perhaps it’s poverty, or war, or oppression. Your livelihood is being threatened and you have an unwavering desire to keep your family safe. Therefore, you leave everything behind and you seek refuge. You climb into overcrowded boats, or you walk for days across the desert. And when you finally see the hope of safe land, you are separated from your family and some stranger walks off with your child. Here’s the thing friends, we can only imagine such a circumstance. But, for thousands of people all across the world, this is real life. And this is not what the world is supposed to be. In fact, make no mistake about, this is not the kingdom that Jesus brought to earth.
No matter what religion, if any, we follow, I plead with you, friends, it is far past time that we put aside the desire to be right, the push to be the best, and accept the unwavering ability to be good, to do right, and to empower the peace God intends for the world.