During the talk back after last Sunday’s sermon, the question arose of whether Jesus would feel at home in our churches today? It’s a good question, one that raises some basic problems. Let’s look at them.
Would we, first of all, allow Jesus into our country? He comes from a part of the world still at war, even as it was in his day. His skin is dark and he doesn’t speak English. His birth certificate is a bit iffy and his employment record is not sterling. After all, he hasn’t worked in years, and he seems to have encouraged others to do in like manner.
He does pay taxes, but his method of financing them is rather odd. Suppose that fish with the handy coin had not been caught. What then?
True, he does not advocate civil disobedience, but he still operates outside the law. The Romans will ultimately arrest him, and his own people denounce him in the name of God.
Does any of this make Jesus from Nazareth a likely candidate for immigrant admission or for church membership?
Put like that, we might not feel comfortable making Jesus one of “us”. We might or might not move over in our pew to give him a seat. If he got that far, I would hope he would find a message that does echo what he has come to teach. I would hope that at coffee hour, we might ask him for further clarification on how better to live as he would want us to in this incredibly diverse world.
In all seriousness, we are frightened about terrorists, but the very definition of their name is the source of our pain. Their actions are not predictable nor rational. In that lies their grip on our imaginations. This, however, should not drive us to see every “outsider” as a cause for fear. After all, we are intelligent beings and we cannot live with a fortress mentality.
So spend some time this week thinking about “outsider” Jesus and plan your personal response.