Scripture: John 6:51: (Jesus said to his disciples) I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
Observation: If you take Jesus’ words at face value this is a disturbing verse. If you didn’t know better, it would sound like Jesus is advocating cannibalism. In fact, in the days of the early church, one of the charges against the persecuted church was the rumor they consumed human flesh and blood. Christians were considered “weird”.
Application: I’m having an interesting exchange on Facebook with two people for whom I have great respect. In their view, I should vote for Donald Trump if for no other reason than he will nominate conservative Supreme Court justices, providing a bulwark against the further move of culture to the left. They see the erosion of traditional Christian influence in the political arena, and secular culture at large, and are fearful of what is to come. I get it. I don’t necessarily agree with it, but I get it.
Yet today’s verse reminds me that, for many years, Christianity did not sit at a place of power and authority in the political arena. Christians were considered “weird”. They had crazy ideas – like the idea that a man from Galilee was crucified and then rose from the dead. In fact, they believed this Jewish carpenter was the very son of God. Christians were hunted down and fed to lions. Then in the 4th century, Christianity became the official religion of the Holy Roman Empire, which later became much of the Western world we know today. So for centuries the church was in a place of power and privilege, but those days are behind us.
We are increasingly being pushed to the margins of wider culture. Been happening for a few decades now. And I don’t believe voting for Trump, or anyone else for that matter, will meaningfully change that trajectory. Christianity appears to be returning to the margins from which we came centuries ago. Many will lament this process, and I do as well to a point. But we know that persecution has a way of reminding the church who we are and what we’re here for. We’re not a social club for Christians. We’re not a charitable organization like the Red Cross. We are a family of disciples called to share life in Christ with others. It’s time to get our “weird” on. Again.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, following you has been socially acceptable and even beneficial for many centuries now. But those days are coming to an end. We’re returning to the days when being Christian was dangerous. Give us grace to hold fast to the faith in the midst of growing opposition to our worldview and ways of life. We ask this in your holy name. Amen.