This week's reading is from Luke 4:21-30
Jesus began speaking in the synagogue, saying:
“Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing."
And all spoke highly of him
and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.
They also asked, “Isn’t this the son of Joseph?”
Everyone was amazed at what Jesus had to say but they couldn't get over that this was Jesus - not the Lord and Savior that we know but the local neighborhood kid that they had all grown up with. "Wasn't this Joseph and Mary's kid? Didn't we use to play sticks with him?"
And that's the problem that we all have - it's hard to let go of preconceptions. We do that with members of our family and some of our oldest friends. Because we have history, it's hard to see them in a different way. There may have been an unfortunate incident in childhood and then some poor kid is called "Booger" for the rest of his life. It happens.
And the reverse is true too. I am a convert. And many folks will tell you that you have to watch out for the converts because they are fired up with the Lord. We didn't grow up with this stuff and we think it is really cool! That's why we converted!
Even then, it is hard for me to talk to members of my family and my oldest friends about my faith. I have a role in those relationships and it is a little uncomfortable to break out of those roles. Honestly, sometimes it makes these folks uncomfortable. They don't know what to do with me. Here is the "baby" and he wants to talk about Jesus in his life - what do you do with that?
But this week's other reading also addresses that:
1 Cor 12:31—13:13
Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, it is not pompous,
It is not inflated, it is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing
but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails.
Many people usually hear this at weddings (because it is a great wedding reading!) but it applies to some many parts of our other lives too. So, it does not matter that you are uncomfortable to be a witness for your faith. As long as it is done with love, then it will overcome all these things because love never fails.
And what of Jesus? What is your preconception of Jesus?
We all have one of him. The people at the temple thought of him as the "son of Joseph." Some of us see him as a stern judge waiting to judge us at the end. Others as some gentle shepherd who will not judge us harshly at the end because he loves us so much. Others don't think about him at all. He is just some guy who died on the cross so many years ago.
The fact is that people like to put Jesus in a box. They like to point out to things in the Bible and say, "See, here it is in black and white, Jesus is not going to forgive that guy!" They set up these convenient rules because it fits their own view of the way that the world should be. They want to play God.
The problem is that they are not God. God is God. The God who created the heavens and the earth is not going to be put in a box. He can do whatever He wants because He knows better...He's God.
So whatever your preconceptions, be ready to throw it out. I am not saying that the Bible is wrong. I am saying that you need to be ready to accept that your conclusions about how God should operate may be wrong.
God may forgive those people that you think He can't forgive. God will judge you and it might be harshly.
Once you are ready to finally throw out those preconceptions of God then you will be ready to really see God. Read the Bible, pray for discernment, be still and hear the voice of God.
What you hear in your heart may surprise you - and change you.