"I've never driven a golf cart and I hate Kid Rock."

"I've never driven a golf cart and I hate Kid Rock."

"I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant[ does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another." - John 15: 15-17

I don't travel much, but I've been to Canada. Here's what I heard: "Oh. You're an American."

"No! Not that kind. I don't own a gun. I've never driven a golf cart and I hate Kid Rock."

More than one hundred dinner parties have left me well-versed in this sort of defensiveness.

"Oh. You're a minister."

"No! Not that kind."

"Well what then? Episcopalian?"

"No way. Incense? it's like they think the sanctuary's a dorm room and the RA's on the prowl."

"Southern Baptist?"

"Did you just call me a homophobe?"

"So you're liberal, like Unitarians."

"No! The last time I went to a Unitarian church the preacher used Bruce Springsteen lyrics instead of scripture."

"Lutheran?"

"Nope, they've got Bishops."

"So what are you?"

"I tell you one thing, I'm not a Catholic."

Jesus wants us to love the people we define ourselves against. A first step might be to figure out who you are without a bête noire.

Maybe that's why we resist God. If opposition is what makes life interesting, or what makes us interesting, we're not going to embrace the One who promises to end it. Can you define yourself without naming the things you hate?

Prayer

Thank you for calling us 'friend' dear Lord. Give us the wisdom to let that title shape us. Amen.

ddauthormattfitzgerald.jpgAbout the Author
Matt Fitzgerald is the Senior Pastor of St. Pauls United Church of Christ in Chicago. He is the host of "Preachers on Preaching," a weekly podcast sponsored by The Christian Century.

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