“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth: it is not peace I have come to bring, but a sword.” - Matthew 10:34 (NJB)
Early in my years as a minister I was perplexed to find that there were some in the congregation who did not trust or support me. Sort of the opposite.
I puzzled over this, and complained about it, to a friend. He listened for a while and then said, “If you’re not making some enemies, you’re probably not doing your job.”
Though this was, on reflection, obviously true, his words hit me like the slap of a Zen master.
Who did I think I was that I should be exempt from opposition, that I should be loved by one and all? What la-la land was I living in?
How had I missed the many times that Jesus said very clearly, “If you follow me, expect trouble”? I became a little more understanding toward the disciples, ever clueless at Jesus’ every mention of his suffering and death. They expected a coronation not a cross.
Of course, you can take this too far. I’ve known a few people who convinced themselves that their capacity to irritate most everyone was a sure confirmation of their status as prophets of the Lord.
It is also true that Jesus told us to “Love our enemies.” But you have to have some if you’re going to love them.
When we encounter trouble and opposition, help us Holy One to know if it’s because we’re following your will or our own. Amen.
Tony Robinson, a United Church of Christ minister, is a speaker, teacher, and writer. He is the author of many books, including What’s Theology Got to Do With It: Convictions, Vitality and the Church. You can read Tony's "Weekly Meditation" and "What's Tony Thinking?" at his website, www.anthonybrobinson.com.