There is great joy in being a follower of Christ. And yet, the more I study the Gospel of Luke the more I am reminded that to be serious in such discipleship will occasion moments of great tension. The Kingdom Jesus brings is different in many key ways from the worlds in which we have been immersed. It should not surprise us, therefore, that his words can bring DIScomfort as easily as comfort.
In Luke 14, for example, Jesus attempts to remove the blinders from a man who had hosted a dinner party.
“When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (Luke 14:12-14)
My wife and I like to think of ourselves as hospitable. But, if I’m honest, I must say that it is HARDER for me to be hospitable to those unlike me. And what is hard, I often avoid. I live with that tension.
I was reminded of the call toward those not like us in the comments from a friend who was reflecting on the movie Spotlight which I’ve referenced here, here, and here. She challenges us to the uncomfortable task of loving, listening to, and trying to understand those different from us, particularly those damaged by abuse and other forms of injustice. Her comments (shared in part here, and with permission) encourage reflection.
They need our love and our support and the only way they are going to have it is when we aren’t afraid to confront the elephant in the room [abuse]. Unfortunately, it’s easier to close our eyes and disassociate from everything that makes us uncomfortable. And I realize this is part of human nature. But I also believe that often so called non-Christians stand up for far more than those of us who call ourselves Christian. We get so focused on historical facts of the church and we are quick to debate theology but we change the subject and refuse to discuss the real issues at hand. We don’t want to discuss abuse, depression, addictions, family issues, or things that aren’t ‘churchy’. This drives people towards hopelessness for where else can they go? We tend to shy away from people that we view as weird or different, and although we claim to love everyone and be grace filled, we avoid those with big issues.
Christians just want to play it safe, to stay in the comfort zone where everything is peachy and…happy all the day. The reality is that there are some not so wonderful things transpiring under our very noses, marriages that are falling apart, children who are hurting because of a divided family, people who contemplate suicide or those that have addictions, people who have been victims of sexual and domestic abuse. We call ourselves family, and promise to stand beside them, to be a ‘hope’ to the community. So, why not discuss it? I think if we got more comfortable with transparency, and tried to get to know the story of those that may be different, we would see an extremely positive affect on our communities.
As one who finds it easier to close my eyes to everything that makes me uncomfortable I need, and am grateful for, these words.