VOICES OF DAVIDSON
Can You Embarrass Jesus?
On one occasion Jesus had to sort of defend himself. It seems that even his “campaign manager,” a crusty prophet named John sent word to Jesus asking, “Are you the candidate we have been waiting and hoping for?” In other words, John seemed both surprised and disappointed in what Jesus had said and done thus far. Jesus’ “platform” including some things John was not expecting: spending time with outcasts, challenging the religious norms, naming disciples from a list of no-names, and not giving hell-fire and damnation political speeches, much like John had already done and expected Jesus to continue.
It seems that Jesus’ message was going to be, well, different. After hearing John’s question, Jesus looked out at the those who were waiting for an answer and simply said, “Blessed are those who take no offense in me.”
Recently a group of “protesters” shouted racial and homosexual slurs at the main intersection of our quiet, little town. They had John 3: 16 printed on their van. This is one of those times it was Jesus who was “offended.”
Jesus once said, “I am the way, the truth, and the light.” Those folks screaming with their bull horn missed all three. It seems our poisoned political climate has created an atmosphere where various factions feel compelled to scream out their message, which is often filled with anger and hate.
As I drove by this spectacle, not realizing it was going to happen, I wanted to go back home and put on my clerical collar and walk up to these “dear” people and say, “The Jesus I know and serve is both offended and embarrassed by you. He sent me here to tell you that. Have a good day.”
I offer some words from Valarie Kaur:
“Listening to our deepest wisdom requires disciplined practice. The loudest
voices in the world right now are ones running on the energy of fear,
criticism, and cruelty. The voices we spend the most time listening to,
in the world and inside our minds, shape the way we see, how we feel,
and what we do.”
As I briefly listened to the angry counter protesters across the street, some of them were also screaming words filled with anger, cursing, and sexual accusations. I understand their intensity because they were incited by the very sad and misguided words and slogans coming from the visitors from afar. I wanted to whisper to these dear, mostly young people, “Don’t let them do that to you. Do not let their poison into your souls.” But then I felt that I maybe did not understand the level of their pain and frustration.
All I know and believe is that Jesus probably would have spent some time on both sides of the street. He had to do that the first time around and, sure enough, to both sides he ended up saying, “Blessed are those who take no offense in me.”
The voices we spend the most time listening to…shape who we are and what we do.
Dr. Jody Seymour
Jody Seymour retired after serving Davidson United Methodist Church as Senior Pastor for 13 years and being a pastor for forty-six years in the Western North Carolina Conference. He is the author of six books and resides just outside of Davidson with his wife, Betsy.