Navigating hostility: the prophetic edge

Luke 10:1 – 20
For Sunday, July 3, 2016 (Proper 9)

What are we to do as Christians if our message is met with hostility?  Luke 10:1 – 20 shows us how to navigate such situations with both integrity and even love.

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Hostility is something that Christians will face more and more in the Secular West.  I experienced this at my former workplace.  Employee Resource Groups (ERG) based on LGBT or racial interests were welcomed, encouraged, and sponsored.  Yet a proposed ERG based on faith was denied, despite multiple attempts to adjust the scope of the group; one proposal was too narrow; the next was too broad.  Already in many workplaces there is pressure from HR departments for executives to declare themselves allies of LGBT groups.

So what are we as Christians to do?  What’s fascinating about Luke 10 is that we see the same message delivered two different ways, depending on how the message is being received.  When Jesus appointed the seventy to spread his message, the message they were to deliver was always the same: “The kingdom of God has come near” (v. 9, v. 11).  Yet notice the difference in tone with which this message is conveyed.  In the first scenario, if well received, they were to stay in homes, cure the sick, and as a point of encouragement say “The kingdom of God has come near!”.

However, in the second scenario, when received with hostility, they were to use a very different tone.  They were still to say, “The kingdom of God has come near”, but to precede this with”Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you” (v. 11).  Notice they weren’t to go away quietly and keep their faith to their private selves.  Nor were they to attempt to become more winsome.  Instead, they were to communicate the message with a prophetic edge.

This is something we are going to learn, do, and get very good at.  In fact, this is actually a very loving response to hostility.  The kingdom of God is indeed near, and people deserve to know, whether by way of encouragement or prophetic warning.

Where have you observed the gospel being received with hostility?  What would it feel like to have the courage to engage in this situation with a prophetic warning?  How about giving it a try?   Please let me know how it goes!

 

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