Time for Christians to Put Away their Swords
Last week I wrote a post on the Lord’s Supper. When Rob Bell was asked what he would do differently if he started another church he quickly answered he would have the group take the Eucharist a lot more.
Our lives take us on many different paths. Even within the church, our various priorities and gifting can lead us in different directions so that we can lose relationship even with people we fellowship with.
The world divides us, the Table of the Lord unites us.
That’s why I groan so much when the U.S. Election season comes around. In the United States, unlike most other countries, the democratic contest held every 2 to 4 years ends up becoming a religious mud wrestling event. And boy, is there A LOT of mud!
And I know from experience because, well, I was a mud thrower!
In Acts 22 Paul the Apostle is trying to explain his ministry to an unruly mob:
Brothers and fathers, listen now to my defense.”
When they heard him speak to them in Aramaic, they became very quiet.
Then Paul said: “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. I studied under Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law of our ancestors. I was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. I persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, 5 as the high priest and all the Council can themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.
“About noon as I came near Damascus, suddenly a bright light from heaven flashed around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?’
“‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked.
“ ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied
Paul came to the shocking realization that what he thought he was doing FOR God, was actually persecuting God! He was grieving the Lord!
I feel a little like Paul sometimes. I’ve been a political “junkie” since my teenage years. I followed politics like others follow sports and the Republican party became for me the home team for “truth, justice, and the American Way!” I was honoring God and defending His ways against the “Philistines at the Gates”…and was quite good at it!
But you know, Jesus doesn’t need to be defended! Oh, but we so WANT to defend him. Take the Apostle Peter for example. When guards came to arrest Jesus at night, Peter’s first instinct was to rush to his defense.
Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)
Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away” (John 18:10)
Put your sword away! Can there be a more direct command from our Lord than that?
Like Paul who was able to quiet the crowd because “he spoke their language”, I can speak the language of people from America’s Christian Right. I want to tell them that I to
* voted for Reagan when I turned 18 in 1984
* canvassed neighborhoods for local, state, and national Republicans since the 1980’s
* supported Pat Robertson in 1988 (there…I said it)
* nearly cried the day Bill Clinton won the election in 1992 convinced the End of Days for America had come
* was a member of Young Republicans in Denver Colorado
* was a subscriber to National Review
* Have read just about every Richard Nixon book he wrote
* won the Republican nomination for Colorado 2nd Congressional District in 2004
And believe me the list could go on…
But over the last couple years this tugging on my heart from the Lord has been, “Steve, Steve…why are you persecuting me?”
“But Lord”, my inner response has been, “I’m not persecuting you…I’m defending you.”
And the Lord responds every time, “Son, put away your sword.”
On Tuesday Christians will be divided on who they vote for. Some will vote for Mitt Romney and others will cast their vote for Barack Obama each with the firm conviction that their candidate is the best candidate to lead America for the next four years.
But on Wednesday, can be again be in communion with each other? Can we gather together united at the Table of the Lord?
There are no swords allowed at the Eucharist.
Time to put away our swords!
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