"Jesus vs. Strife"

Welcome to Holy Week!  Every day has its own traditions and rituals--

     Palm Sunday - when Jesus rode into Jerusalem to acclamation.

     Holy Monday - when Jesus cursed a fig tree to wither.

     Holy Tuesday - (awkwardly attribute an action to this day).

     Spy Wednesday - possibly when Judas met with the Sanhedrin.

     Maundy Thursday - the Last Seder, when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet.

     Good Friday - when Jesus was crucified and died.

     Black Saturday - when, terrifyingly, nothing happened.

     Resurrection Sunday - when, terrifyingly, something amazing happened, and Jesus rose from the dead.

We have an amazing number of traditions and rituals surrounding Easter, and if they draw people closer to God and deepen their genuine relationship with Him, then I’m all for them.  Please take advantage of the season and reach out to those around you, sharing with them why Good Friday is so hard, and why Resurrection Sunday is so joyful.  Invite people to join us for Sunday morning’s service (and Sunday morning’s breakfast).  Make the most of every opportunity that you have to reach out to those around you.

Of course, that suggests that we probably need to remember that for a Christian, every week should be holy -- set apart for God, focused on how we can honor Him in our everyday lives.  Which means that every day should be holy, because we’re supposed to be living every day as ambassadors of God’s Kingdom in everything that we do.  Which means that every action, every conversation, every priority in our lives should be holy -- consciously set apart from this world’s perspectives in order to worship God.

Think about how we handle conflict.  In our message this week, we made a distinction between conflict (which is good -- two people coming at one thing from two directions, yielding better decisions) and strife (which is bad -- two people turning a moment of logical conflict into an emotive fight, breeding bitterness and resentment).  Time and again, Jesus demonstrated that He wasn’t afraid of conflict, but that He wouldn’t engender strife.

He loved Zacchaeus, even though the people despised him.  That made some people then despise Jesus.  He loved Judas, even though Judas betrayed him.  He even loved the servant of the high priest whom Peter assaulted when he came to arrest Jesus.  He even loved Peter, though He had to rebuke him for creating the very strife that he’d ostensibly armed himself to prevent.

But time and again, Jesus demonstrated that even when He took a hard stance on truth (such as when He threw the money-changers out of the Temple courts), He did so with an absolute love and caring for people (such as those who hadn’t been able to worship in the courts because of those money-changers).

So can you -- as an act of worship this week -- consciously make sure that even your conflict is honoring to God?  Make sure to love people well, and to conflict with them (when you need to) in ways that show that you still care about their hearts and still care about God’s heart, even as you disagree.