Hebrews 12: 4-7, 11-15
In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as children—
“My child, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
or lose heart when you are punished by him;
for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves,
and chastises every child whom he accepts.”
Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children; for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? Now, discipline always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and through it many become defiled.
Psalm 103: 1-2, 13-14, 17-18
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and do not forget all his benefits
As a father has compassion for his children,
so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.
For he knows how we were made;
he remembers that we are dust
But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
on those who fear him,
and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant
and remember to do his commandments.
Mark 6: 1-6
He left that place and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Then Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house.” And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.
How you would feel if someone you went to high school with became famous? It might be hard to believe if someone you knew to be shy and quiet turned into a pop star. Or if someone who annoyed you became a political figure. As we grow up and make sense of the world around us, we are essentially trained to sum people up quickly and hold to our opinions of them. This reality is illustrated in the gospel today. The town judged Jesus because they knew Him growing up. They knew the rumors surrounding Mary and Joseph of how Mary was found with child before she and Joseph where united. They knew Jesus’ education level and “blue collar” profession. Because of these things, their sight of Him was limited to their assumptions of Him causing them to miss that the redeemer was directly in front of them. It is a fault in our world that we have not been brought up to see people as God sees them. We often fail to look beyond our own stereotypes, pre-conceived notions, prejudices or differences to perceive God’s affection and purpose for one another.
Today there are more things that seem to divide us than unite us. Our nation has been tearing apart for quite some time over moral, political, and religious beliefs. Those differences, no matter where they stem from, have become the whole of how we see each other as made evident by the hateful, blatant, and short sighted ways in which we communicate. If we go on Facebook or any form of social media, we read post after post of angry people calling their “friends” nasty names based on their religious/moral/or political sway. True communication has ceased and severe judgement on every person’s character has taken it’s place. These crude assumptions made on one another’s character are not merely coming from a place of dissonance over another’s actions - but rather from a fragmented glimpse into another’s views and a back log of our own fears rising to the surface.
The reconciliation of our differences, the correction of sin, and restoration of love into society is not going to come from insisting that those people on the “other side” are evil or hypocritical for believing what they believe. Instead, we need to return to Christ to receive from Him the ability to love in spite of division and look at our enemies as our brothers and sisters because even if they don’t know it, they are the children of God.
It is an active discipline of the heart and mind to look past our assumptions of one another and to see a person as God sees them: As His own beloved child who has wandered out of His care and been hurt by the betrayal of sin. The scripture promises that discipline doesn’t feel good, but that in the long run it is worth it. Because God loves us, He will want to use us to be His mouth piece in the world. By His grace and mercy, we are called in righteousness to bring hope, healing, and restoration to this devastated world. May our hearts be open to receive His compassion for those who anger us the most.
Prayer: Dear Jesus, I admit that there are people who really frustrate me. It’s hard for me not to judge them based on their words and actions, especially when they are harsh or inconsiderate toward me. Help me God to love them the way that you do. May you orient me toward your vision of hope and healing for the world and empower me to be your voice of reconciliation. I know that you desire that all people be united to you, would you give me the grace that I need to appropriately and lovingly bring those far away into relationship with you. Amen.