I've decided to start an occasional series of blogging the lectionary. I need to do something to help me engage more with the text, hopefully this will help.
Jesus' disciples said, 'Yes, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure of speech! Now we know that you know all things, and do not need to have anyone question you; by this we believe that you came from God.' Jesus answered them, 'Do you now believe? The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!' ~ John 16:29-33
I'm not going to blog about Christian Persecution in the U.S. even though the phrase 'in this world you face persecution' is the one that caught my attention. For an interesting post on the difference between persecution and loss of privilege I suggest you read this post by professor Robert Cargill.
I've never experienced persecution. I once didn't get a job because I refused to work Sundays because that was the Sabbath, but that's as close as it comes. Of course I now work for a church that requires that I work on Sundays every week :)
To Persecute is defined as 'To pursue with harassing or oppressive treatment, especially because of religion, race or beliefs'. By that definition I must confess that I am a Persecutor.
I have ridiculed somebody for what they believed.
I have used guilt and shame to manipulate someone.
I have treated someone as 'less than' because they didn't fit my definition of what a Christian should be.
I have punished someone because their behavior did not fit my ideas of right and wrong.
I have been verbally abusive.
I have driven someone to depression with my continual haranguing, belittling and teasing.
I guess I have experienced persecution, for I have done all of this to myself, all because of my misguided understanding of how Christianity should display itself in my life. I have been a long way from the peace Jesus promises.
The Jesus I read of in the gospel binds up broken hearts, he doesn't berate them for feeling hurt. He stands with the weak and the oppressed, he doesn't tell them to quit whining. He doesn't injure, he heals.
The peace Jesus promises does not come about through laws and regulations, through checklists of behavior or doctrinal statements of belief.
I will be still, I will listen to the heartbeat of God. I will be gracious to myself, and everything will be brought into the light, beliefs, actions, attitudes, creeds. It will be examined under the lens of Peace and Love, and be celebrated for what is and transformed into what will be.