Today I preached about living as Christians.
Not a new concept, but a challenging one. It is relatively easy to wear the name of Jesus when things are going well. When we have money in the bank and when the world is going along nicely, thank you very much, it is less challenging to live the teachings we say we believe.
But when life gets bumpy: when political muck is thrown and anxiety is ratcheted in Madison and the Middle East, living the ethical teachings we are given by our faith is hard work.
And it is even more crucial in such times that we remember who we are. The text this morning was from the book of Leviticus. The teachings shared in chapter 19 are moral guidelines given us by a God who believes we have the power and heart to live in such a way that we love our neighbors as ourselves.
How will we live? Will we enter into the disparaging-of-others fray, happily roiling up the indignation of ourselves and others, or will we remember that all createds are kin? What does it feel like to walk in the shoes of the other? How do we make a difference when the challenges facing our country, our communities, our families and our hearts are so vast?
We choose life. Life in the way of Jesus is about building up, not gleefully tearing down. Life in the way of Jesus is standing up and speaking against oppression and injustice; speaking our truth while never forgetting that the ways we speak and the ways we encounter those different from ourselves matters.
I’m troubled. There is rage not too far beneath the surface of our lives. It is precisely in such times that we ought challenge ourselves to not only pay lip service to the gospel. It is time to try to live it, with God’s help.
It’s hard work. God believes we can do it.