The disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?” He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the Realm of God has been given to you, but not to them. … For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes.” - Matthew 13:10-11 & 15 (NIV)
American Christians are divided. On LGBTQ rights, Christians are divided. On the rights of immigrants, Christians are divided.
Remarkably, both sides quote the words of Jesus. Both sides believe that Jesus stands with them.
But both sides cannot be correct, can they?
It’s impossible that those working to keep immigrant children in cages and those working to provide sanctuary are both serving Christ. It’s impossible that those working to legalize discrimination against LGBTQ people and those working crisis hotlines for trans youth are both serving Christ.
Someone is right and someone is wrong. Someone is serving Christ, and someone … well … isn’t.
But whose side is Christ on? How can we know? Jesus’ words are interpreted all sorts of ways. It’s enough to make a disciple want to take Jesus aside and ask, “Why not give us a straightforward answer? What’s with all the parables?”
Jesus’ teachings are riddles and his miracles are mysteries. But he gave us a guide for understanding. Christ teaches us that those whose hearts are calloused have missed the mark. Those whose hearts are tender have a better chance of finding Jesus.
Remember that you are a servant of Christ. Let your heart be tender, let your heart break with the brokenhearted and dream alongside the hopeful. And with your heart wide open, decide where to take your stand.
God, help us to know the Word behind your word.
John Edgerton is Lead Pastor at First United Church of Oak Park, Illinois.