Sermons on unsettling text
The disciples knew that following Jesus meant acknowledging their sins, and Jesus had taught them that the worst were the self-righteous who claimed to be better than other people. The disciples wondered if real peace required self-sacrifice. Could forgiveness require that we give up something? Isn’t it enough to just believe and be near Jesus? Why is he demanding that we maim ourselves in order to follow him? We know that there are places where people do not forgive each other. There are places where instead of caring for the poor, feeding people who are hungry, protecting refugees, and healing people who are sick the powerful keep their wealth to themselves. There are places where those who are great abuse, oppress, imprison, and kill the weak in their community. There are places without water, where suffering never ends, and the fires of violence never die.
Being unsettled with a text allows me to enter into a conversation with God that washing over it precludes. If I sit with my disagreement, I become stagnant in my relationship with God because I’ve given up on understanding God about my disagreement.