I could logically take this time and space to make a political stand. I personally do not believe that Jesus would, given the opportunity. He was known for saying such things as, “give to Cesar what is Cesar’s and give to God what is God’s.” We have made our Christian nationalism a new idol and have lost the actual work of Christ within ourselves and what it means to “live” as Christians in a world that is not Christian. I go back to the many times in which Jesus gave His followers tasks, duties, whatever you desire to call it. He called them, as He calls us, to live a certain way. I am reminded of His words to Peter. Jesus had just risen from the grave and was appearing to people when He appeared on the shoreline while Peter and others were fishing. Peter had denied Jesus. He failed to stand up for Him as he told Jesus he would do. So why would Jesus extend love and forgiveness?
John 21: 17 “17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.” NLT
Jesus asks Peter to “feed my sheep.” What Jesus is asking of Peter, He is also asking of us. Jesus asks each of us who believe in Him and are called according to His purpose, to feed His sheep. His sheep are all human beings, as every human being is created in the image of God. He calls us to spread the “good news” of the Gospel. What is “good news”? It is the salvation found in the work of Jesus, the Messiah, who provided a means of justification through the shedding of his blood, and defeated sin and death by rising from the grave. Everyone has an opportunity to believe this or not. When our Christianity becomes a stumbling block, which is a very slippery slope, we can at times do more harm than good. Are we willing to be right more than we are willing to be loving, caring, and feeding sheep? I am continuing to replay Jesus’ words to His disciples about what we are to be doing. In Matthew 28: 18-20 we see, “18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
I believe we are to be making disciples of Jesus, being very careful not to confuse being disciples of the world. Are we portraying the Jesus of Scripture, or the Jesus that we want to see. Are we sacrificing our own lives for our neighbor? Are we helping one another rather than being concerned with being “right”? Jesus desires your best, and your all. As he said, “feed my sheep.”
The writer is the pastor for Maplewood and DeGraff United Methodist Churches.