Friday, February 10, 2012
A Family Divided
They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”
They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham's children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. You are doing the works your father did.” They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.” John 8:33-47
The wall that has been put up to separate parts of the Holy Land is a visceral reminder of how divided we remain as the children and family of God. So often, we forget how easy it is to demonize the other side - those on the other side of the argument, those who are worship in a different way, those who speak and live differently than we do and those who live on the other side of the wall. We still fail to see our brothers and sisters in our neighbors, in the people in the diner and those who keep to themselves for fear of us. Even within strong families people often take sides demonizing one sibling or parent over another. And yet, we are all broken and human beings, in need of love, support and friendship.
Jesus takes issue with the religious leaders of his time. They are afraid of him, his style and community is so different, so they have decided to kill him. Their righteous indignation has taken over and they want to rid the land of his blasphemy. He speaks of God's love, forgiveness and invitation, but all they see is his radical difference, all they hear is his welcome to outsiders and strangers. God in Jesus was changing the rules and expanding, but those in power were frightened of change and loss of control. We are all afraid of these things also. And Jesus invites us to be a family, despite our selves, despite our fears and anxieties, and our awkwardness with difference.
Today I ask God to help me live into a new family, new relationships and the possibilities and new communities we are invited to join. I pray that fear will not cloud my judgment, nor discomfort keep me from embrace. May my life this day be dedicated to see the face of God in each person I encounter. May I be a font of God's grace and a humble child at the Creator's family table.