Among the elders at the church I attended in college was an assistant district attorney. Affable and energetic, he made a point of encouraging the visiting students in particular. I didn’t get to know him well, but he knew me enough so that when I showed up in court for a public affairs reporting assignment one weekday, he recognized me—but not warmly.
Fortunately, I had already learned from one of my journalism professors that there was an attorney at the courthouse who had a particular loathing for reporters. My professor assured us that we should not take such things personally; it comes with the job.
Next time I saw the attorney in church, I got the cold shoulder. I resisted the impulse to say to him, “Hey, I’m not that guy,” for had I really understood his issues, I may very well have been that guy, and with nothing to apologize for. In any case, I wasn’t long to remain in that town, and not likely to see him again at his day job. His aversion toward members of the press, even a college kid who wore the same pair of pants five days a week, was not my problem.
But conflict is a problem, and it is not something we can escape by moving to a new town. Life is contentious, and peace at any cost, including at the cost of our integrity, is not the way of the Cross. Jesus wants us to know how much more this will be true when contending for the Faith. Sometimes people are simply not going to like us, or like what we have to say, because of what we believe as Christians.
Certainly we see this in public affairs, but perhaps all the more among the people we long to be closest to—our families. While some may love to fight, Jesus is not asking us to be obnoxious; He is letting us know that being double-minded and belonging to Him don’t go together. We are called to acknowledge Him even when doing so is alienating for us while in this world. No, we should not expect this to be easy. Will we fail? Ask the Apostle Peter.
At this start of Lent, a season in which we give particular attention to examining our hearts and loyalties, let’s look to the Cross as our hope and salvation.
- When has your faith brought you into conflict with family or friends?
- What aspect of your faith is hardest for those around you to accept?
by John Schuessler