I served in Colorado Springs for nearly 20 years. When people think of Colorado Springs they often think, “Christian - Safe and Conservative.” Don’t they? Probably, most people like it that way. It’s shocking sometimes to remember that all the conservatives of Jesus’ time were AGAINST him. It was the sinners, the tax collectors, the prostitutes who flocked to Jesus. That’s why he talks about such DIVISION in today’s Gospel.
And there still is division, And there ought to be division! Division is a mark of conversion, of a commitment to Jesus and a renunciation of everything else! The sinners, the searchers come to Jesus to change their lives. The self-righteous, the settled create their own Jesus, an anti-Christ.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus says that he came to set the earth on FIRE. Fire is the power of faith being lived out. We have to die to our sins so as to rise with Jesus. That’s painful!
It might be easier to create our own Jesus than to follow the real one.
It might be easier to keep trying to soothe our wounds than light up the world.
Maybe we tend to think of our faith as something we have, a possession. If we are secure in it, then we think we are safe, then all we have to do is to be careful not to lose it. We can become defensive. There are all sorts of influences out there that could make us lose our faith, so we get worked up and anxious about avoiding them like a plague.
But Jesus is on the offense, too! Faith is not something we only HAVE; it’s something we DO. Fire is not just some thing lying around safely, needed to be protected on all sides. No, it’s energy, and it’s not safe to be around. If it only makes us feel warm and cozy like on a cold winter night, it’s not faith!
“Christian - Safe and Conservative.” Let’s change that! This week, invite more sinners and searchers to come to Jesus. If that causes division, so be it! Division is a mark of conversion, of a commitment to Jesus and a renunciation of everything else! Invite others to come here to Jesus to change their lives.
Rev. Mark Zacker