Adapted from Acts 4: Dear Jesus, After Peter and John were told to stop teaching about You, “the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came to them, much annoyed. So they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who heard the word believed; and they numbered about five thousand.”
How do we talk about Jesus today in polite conversation? Do we back away from giving Jesus any space in our conversations? What is the old adage—avoid religion and politics at all costs. I have to give Wesley Theological Seminary a shout out here. Mike McCurry, the former Press Secretary to President Clinton, is on staff there, and he is actively teaching about how to have civil discussions about religion in the public square—and many other groups are seeking to have the same kind of discussions. What I am learning by watching what is happening around the world is that we learn best when we allow our minds to listen to ideas we may even find unsettling. When I get “worked up” over what I am hearing I have now learned I am about to find out something new. It sharpens my focus and it allows me to understand what I have come to believe more comprehensively. Richard Rohr talks about a “both/and” conception of things. He encourages us to see ur own dark side and learn from it. He assures us we all have one. The Sadducees and the priests want to silence Peter and John. Yes, even today there are people who would like to silence anyone who might want to speak about how they understand God—and I think that is dangerous. So how can we speak about Jesus today?
The plaque my mentor, Tracy Mac Neil Wines, gave me at ordination says: “Preach the gospel, when all else fails use words.” Our actions speak louder than our words. As followers of Jesus what do our actions reveal? We need the Holy Spirit in us to guide us so we can tell the wonderful story of the healing power of Jesus. We are not facing jail as Peter and John were—we just risk “losing face” so to speak. I resisted my calling for many years, afraid that people might think I was a religious weirdo. When I finally did allow the Holy Spirit to lead me to seminary and eventual ordination, I found it was a privilege to share the love of God daily. We praise easily the people we love, we let others know when someone has been a blessing in our lives. Will we share the Good News of Jesus in our prayers and actions—and finally with our words if all else fails?
Payer recap: Dear Jesus, we are not facing a firing squad when we tell people of Your healing power, help us to value Your blessings and to share Your Good News with our actions and words. Amen