What I’m Reading Today: Luke 14
In the earliest days of the Christian movement, there were several aspects of the lifestyle that set early Christians apart from most others. Many early followers of Jesus, for instance, refused to eat food that had been sacrificed to idols. Early Christians were also considered unusual because they worshipped God on a different day of the week than many others. They also were different in terms of their practices concerning table fellowship. By this I mean they would include others at their table that many others would not. Things such as this made those early followers of Jesus distinctive from those around them.
Over they years, many of these practices have either fallen out of practice, been incorporated by others traditions, or simply been accepted as ‘normal’ by the mainstream. That means there are fewer and fewer things that set Christians apart from others.
On one level, that’s a good thing – for in many ways we are no different than those around us. On another level, however, I think it is a bad thing – for I believe the expression of our relationship with the God who was revealed through Jesus Christ should result in radical expressions of things like love, mercy, and grace. Those expressions ought to set us apart from some others.
As I watched the debate on the healthcare bill on the floor of the House of Representatives a few weeks ago, for instance, I thought to myself: “Wouldn’t it be great if the followers of Jesus from both parties distinguished themselves by their insistence on being loving and respectful toward those with whom they disagreed?”
And as I’ve watched the economic crisis unfold over the past two years, I frequently daydreamed about what it would be like if followers of Jesus who worked in fields such as the mortgage industry or banking fields distinguished themselves by creating innovative ways they could help folks in distress.
Sadly, in each of these areas I mentioned, most Christians failed to be/act distinctively and simply thought and acted like everyone else. As Jesus observed in today’s passage: “Salt is excellent. But if the salt goes flat, it’s useless, good for nothing.”
My question for you to consider today is this: “In what ways does your faith make you different from (but certainly not better than) others in the world?” Our world – often characterized by its sense of polarization and self-interest – desperately needs your saltiness!
Til next time…