September 19, 2023 - Good Morning! It's Tuesday, September 19.
We're blessed, here in America, to have freedom of speech. We are free to express our opinions. But the flip side of that blessing, is that we have to hear from a lot of people who have very different opinions than ours. And so, throughout our history, America has been a country divided, and often divisive. We often disagree with our fellow Americans, and sometimes we are disagreeable in the process. Instead of attacking another person's opinions, sometimes we choose to attack that person, who they are, their personality, their character. The internet, of course, has only exacerbated this. So, how are we as Christians supposed to approach this situation? As always, it begins with the four little letters on those bracelets that some people wear - WWJD - What would Jesus do?
Perhaps we find the answer in a scripture passage that is found in three of the four gospels - the list of Jesus' disciples.
In first century Israel, there was no one that the Jews hated more than the Romans. But a close second was those Jews who worked for the Romans. These men collected a series of punishing taxes, and inflated those taxes for their own profit, often becoming very wealthy at the expense of their own people. They were considered traitors, they were hated. And one of these men was named Matthew.
In first century Israel, there was a group called the Zealots. These men were revolutionaries, and they were often violent. They were working to overthrow the Roman government. And as much as they hated the Romans, perhaps the Zealots hated tax collectors more. And one of these men was named Simon.
When you look at the twelve names of Jesus' disciples, you find the names Matthew and Simon there. What was Jesus thinking? These two men would not only have to work together, but they would have to live together, for three long, challenging years. And these men would be the key to introducting the gospel to the world, after Jesus had gone back to heaven. How could he possibly expect a tax collector and a Zealot to make a productive team. How could he expect that they wouldn't kill each other?
Jesus always had the right priorities, and when he looked at Matthew and Simon, he didn't dwell on their differences, he focused on what they had in common. To put it simply, He saw them as children of God, and He loved them. And so, as we live in this divided and divisive world, let us consider Jesus' example. When we are tempted to be disagreeable in our disagreements, when we are tempted to demonize those who hold different opinions, let us remember these two things - they are children of God, and Jesus loves them.
Meet you back here tomorrow,