The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Feed my sheep."
March 30, 2018
Holy Week meditation
Dear fellow Christians,
Lent and Holy Week seem to hold a different meaning this year.
In the U.S., it is hard not to contemplate them in light of the ongoing crisis in parts of Christendom, namely the persistence of many Christians in supporting the current president and his advisers’ actions, both personal and public. More than a year into this administration, most of the reports indicate that large segments of Christians continue to find ways to excuse the mounting behavior and policy issues that run counter to the teachings of Christ.
The mental and soul gymnastics required to maintain this position grow every day and have put people who identify as Christians in an unwelcome spotlight. It has become routine for non-Christians to ask, “Just how much more are they willing to turn away from and excuse? Do the basic tenets of their faith in the end mean little to them? Is their religion really one of ‘love’ when so much of their behavior indicates otherwise?”
Yes, Christians are in an unwelcome spotlight. And from all reports, we are not acquitting ourselves well at all. The current narrative centers around wondering how low Christians will go, how far we will debase ourselves, how far from the common understanding of the shape of our faith we will stray.
Last year at this time, I was worried that Christians’ widespread support of the current president was spreading a stain that would cover Christ himself. I no longer have this fear. The tide seems to have turned. People instead are looking at Jesus, his life, his priorities, his instructions for our lives, and the kinds of people and behaviors he criticized….. and then they are looking at the people who claim to follow him. And they are starting to say, “Do these people have anything to do with Jesus at all”? The answer is increasingly unclear. However, non-Christians are rejecting Jesus’ followers, not Jesus himself. People are not stupid. They know hypocrisy when they see it. They are able to separate Christians and their actions from Jesus himself. They are seeing the disconnection, and to borrow a saying popular in evangelical circles, they know that when you see distance between Christians and God, you know “who moved.” It wasn’t God.
In this past year, many Christians have contorted themselves so much in their attempts to continue to justify who they support politically that they have broken themselves and their witness. As I write this, it is Maundy Thursday of Holy Week, the day of Judas’ betrayal of Christ. This year, I am thinking of the betrayal of Christ today, by people who also consider themselves his followers. Can we actually look Jesus in the eyes at this point and tell him our allegiance is to him above all others?
May God move us to a spiritual reckoning, repentance and awakening. Lord, have mercy.
"Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven."