This is a sermon summary of the sermon presented at Prairie Chapel (Fulton, MO) on February 16, 2014.
Peter must have been uncomfortable being identified with Jesus at least in the face of conflict and criticism. Remember he denied Jesus three times before the cock crowed. Are we comfortable with our faith in a time that Christianity is under attack? Are we able to comfortably engage our friends who are skeptics? Or are we afraid we will be identified as “one of them?”
Forty percent of 16 to 29 year-olds have rejected the Christian faith. It may not be Jesus they reject, but Christians. Eighty seven percent of them say we are too judgmental especially of their homosexual friends (Had we approached many of Michael Sam’s friends on Saturday, shielding him from the Westboro Baptist Church haters, we might have been labeled “one of them.” Eight-five percent say we are hypocrites saying one thing and doing another. I wear my Christianity on my sleeve. I wonder if my secular friends label me when topics about creationism, or judgmentalism, or bigotry are in the news. I wonder.
Jesus was critical, in fact judgmental, of those within the faith, tough on the Scribes and Pharisees, but dealt gently with those beyond. In Matthew 7, he tells us to not judge, least we be judged, to not judge the speck in our neighbor’s eye before we remove the log from our own. In other words, “nudge, not judge.”
He tells us to not throw our pearls before swine lest they trample them under their feet and turn and maul us. In other words, don’t force our ideas on others when they are just not ready.
He tells us come along side others, develop relationships with other, respect others, coach others by asking, seeking, gently knocking instead of foisting what we consider sacred on the “dogs.” He tells us to “ask not cast.” Lastly, he sums it all up saying, "Therefore, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law and the prophets." In other words, "Be Gold not cold." Be sensitive, be warm. Build relationships, walk in the other's shoes. Treat others with the respect that we expect "for this is the law and the prophets."