When I was a child, I heard the phrase, but didn’t know what it meant. “Don’t argue about religion or politics.” Age has brought me enlightenment. If you want to make people mad, argue politics. If you want to make them rabid, argue religion!
I remember in high school reducing a couple of sincere Christian kids to tears. I was vicious in my arguments and attacks on Christian belief, and the foolishness of believing in God. My hostility was visceral. Of course it turned out that I was hostile because I was beginning to wonder if maybe the Christians were right.
In the 8th chapter of John’s gospel Jesus is arguing religion. He is passionate and seems to be goading his opponents. And his opponents have a visceral response. Jesus has just said “You will know the truth and the truth shall set you free.”
He’s met with instant defensiveness. “You think we don’t know the truth! We’re children of Abraham.”
Jesus is not going to win any popularity contests. John’s description of this dialogue puts Jesus one pebble away from being killed by stoning. He keeps provoking people!
But he seems to have a purpose in provocation. He’s trying to reach people who are so sure they are right, they have no room to examine other options. He has to provoke them to the point that they want to kill him. But he is trying to break through to allow new thinking and new living to transform them.
I have a t-shirt that each male in my family got last Christmas. It reads “I may be wrong, but I don’t think so!” It is not a badge of humility! And when I am so sure I am right, it can distance me the very truth that can set me free. I may not be able to hear.
But if I humble myself, God might teach me something new, or help me to see the old in a new light.
“John 8:47Whoever is from God hears the words of God. The reason you do not hear them is that you are not from God.' "
God help us to hear your Word, Jesus who you have sent.