I am not sure how many of us heard about this news. “(Bloomberg) — Americans under the age of 45 have found a novel way to rebel against their elders: They’re staying married. New data show younger couples are approaching relationships very differently from baby boomers, who married young, divorced, remarried and so on. Generation X and especially millennials are being pickier about who they marry, tying the knot at older ages when education, careers and finances are on track. The result is a U.S. divorce rate that dropped 18 percent from 2008 to 2016, according to an analysis by University of Maryland sociology professor Philip Cohen.”
Now this has little to do with the scenario in which Jesus was forced to respond. Yet, at the heart of this story, there is much to glean. When the Pharisees approached Jesus, it was again an attempt to delegitimize his ministry and teachings. They were firmly convinced Jesus was a religious fraud whose teachings were not of the Mosaic tradition. The Pharisees believed if they could publicly ‘catch him’ then they had a strong case to destroy his authenticity and his ministry.
Thus, the matters of divorce and welcoming are used here to illustrate not only the authenticity of Jesus’ message, but also the tearing down of the barriers imposed by those for whom religion was about restrictions. For Jesus’ heart and His mind responding to the power of God is to be willing to live out the fullness of God. Jesus knew having faith in the greatness of God must live at the very core of all of our actions.
Women and children should no longer to be treated as the playthings of men. Divorce was an easy process if initiated by men. However, women could not initiate divorce under any circumstances. Children were viewed as chattel to be owned and not valued for their self-worth. It was a man’s world! It was a world for the privileged and wealthy who used religion to reinforce their position.
Thus, the dialogue we share today must be seen within the perspective of Jesus challenging a society so far bent out of the shape God created, Jesus was willing to die to reshape it. Thus, to be a Christian is not to live in the conformity of an out-of-shape world, but to be one willing to step out in faith to repair this broken world. “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is the good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2)
When we review the story of Job it is about a man who lived within the sphere of God’s world in spite of all the challenges and losses he endured. It is about faithful living and faithful thinking which leads to faithful loving. Many of the teachings of Job’s story came alive on the lips of Jesus. Job was one of the first to declare his preference to lose an eye than lose his heavenly reward. (Job chapter 31)
We are called to be making disciples for Jesus through faithful living and faithful thinking. By this I mean how we live out our daily lives should draw others to Christ. This is not just about divorce or attending Sunday school or voting Republican or Democrat or following the dogma of any religion. It is also how we care for those who struggle with divorce and the loneliness of dissolving relationships. It is also how we care for the children in the community; not just those children in our Sunday school. When Jesus responded to his detractors, it was through teachings and sermons forged on the streets, amidst the people, with hopes and sighs and tears too deep for words.
What do we do to share with others the love of God in Christ Jesus? My friends, let us, a faith community, remember to keep central to our life the call of Jesus is to make disciples. “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:32) The role of the Christian is to participate by calling all who are being trampled upon to find healing and by leading those who trample upon the weak to the justice and the love of God. We are called to hold on to the bold claim of having faith in Jesus allows those of us who hunger for justice and truth will sustain hope in the living God even when the world may proclaim otherwise. Kingdom living drives us forward even when the way looks cloudy. Do not wait until Good Friday to remember at the hour of the death of Jesus, the Temple cloth torn asunder.
The news media reminds us there is much to be done to protect the rights of the powerless. And, as easy as it may seem to limit our faith to the “spiritual realm”, we are here to do more for God. Here, we follow Jesus as he strides into the arena of the world and declares all things and all people matter to God; men, women, children and nature are all part of the economy of God’s love. Let us as Christians set out boldly to go where the young people are calling us. “Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.” The children are here teaching us to love deeper, stronger and more faithful. Now, if we can only get them to pray harder.