The pressure to pick a side…

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Luke 23:13 Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him. 15 Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death. 16 I will therefore have him flogged and release him.” 18 Then they all shouted out together, “Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!”

In the Apostle’s Creed we say that Jesus was, “crucified under Pontius Pilate” which is true. Pilate had the authority to choose a less severe punishment for Jesus but, afraid of the Jewish crowds (which far outnumbered the Roman soldiers in his charge), Pilate relented and ordered Jesus crucified.

Pilate had a chance to do the right thing, but ultimately caved to public pressure.

There are times when doing the right thing will bring criticism. Reminds me of the saying, “No good deed goes unpunished.” I am not immune to the opinions of others or pressure to conform. There’s a lot of pressure to conform these days. US culture has been described as “tribal” in that one is either conservative or progressive. There have been a number of times when people have asked me to pick a side. For the most part I have resisted. I am neither conservative nor progressive but am a Christian serving in the name of Jesus. If I choose a political side I become an adversary of the other and my capacity to shepherd a diverse congregation is compromised.

In part, Jesus was crucified because he refused to take a side. He would neither side with the Roman or Jewish authorities. Within the Jewish community he refused to side with either the Pharisees or Sadducees. Jesus aligned himself with the Kingdom of God, choosing grace and mercy rather than condemnation. And he was killed for it.

Lord Jesus there is great pressure for us to pick a side. Give us grace to resist. Amen.

2 thoughts on “The pressure to pick a side…

  1. LYN ZASTROW

    For evil to succeed, good men must do nothing (including picking a side). It is OK to pick a side against evil. The problem with the Church today is that they are too afraid that some vocal minority may be upset if it wants to take a stand. With no stand, the secular society continues to grow and and ‘Christians’ are not developing a personal relationship with our Savior and Lord – Jesus Christ.

    Is it ok to have a transgender pastor (or Bishop). The bible says no, yet the ELCA says yes to appease the progressives. Is abortion justified under God. I believe it is willing murder, yet the ELCA – and other churches – say that abortion is ok under God. Playing in the ‘grey areas’ is a way of following the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law — Including God’s law. I pray that everyone develops a relationship with Christ, and that the Church can mature it followers to do that. The Church has two missions – to evangelize (Matthew 28), and to mature the new members to have that personal relationship. The second part can’t be done if we only want to live in the grey areas like the Pharisees and Sadducees did in the biblical times.

    • Hi Lyn, as usual I appreciate your comments. The kinds of issues you bring up (abortion, transgender clergy) are interestingly not the kinds of issues I’m referring to in not taking a side. I think abortion is wrong and have no problem saying so. Nor do I think scripture affirms transgender pastors/bishops/whoever. To the degree the ELCA affirms these things I am not in agreement. Frankly there are several areas in which I disagree with the polity of the denomination (requiring only clergy to preside at communion, using representative democracy as the governing paradigm for the church, the idea that communion should only be shared in-person rather than include those participating digitally, etc.). Even so, the ELCA is the denomination through which I first heard the gospel and continue to be called – despite my areas of disagreement. I agree with you regarding the mission of the church to evangelize and mature disciples. The areas people want me to take a stand tend to be more of a political variety rather than moral questions. Affirm one political party over another, one candidate over another, that sort of thing.

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