by Rev. Frank Schaefer
(some concepts of this sermon are borrowed from one of Barabara Brown Taylor's Lenten
Did you just hear what I heard in the Scripture reading? Were we reading from a strange
bible version, or did we come across a translation mistake? Or did the apostle Paul
actually write: "Be angry but do not sin?" Now think about that for a moment.
Can you think back to a time in your life when you were angry with someone without
sinning? Without also calling that person names under your breath? Can anybody be angry
with someone without talking bad about that person behind his/her back? Without yelling at
this person, or at least, giving them a piece of our mind?
Let us look at this saying in context. Paul writes: "Let all of us speak the truth
to our neighbors, for we are members of one another," he coached them. "Be angry
but do not sin. 'Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in
Christ has forgiven you."
Paul's words sound strange to people of our culture today. And that is true for
Christians as well. We do not, on the whole, speak the truth to our neighbors. We are
polite but noncommittal, wanting above all to he liked. Our culture teaches us to be
shallow in our relationship with others. Keep your safe distance from persons. Don't let
anyone so close to you that they can hurt your feelings.
And because our culture teaches us to be shallow in our relationships, we do not live
as though we were members of one another. What does Paul mean by that? Remember he is
talking to church members! Living as though we were members of one another means that
contrary to what our culture teaches us that we are supposed to enter into very close
relationships with one another. As close as a close-knit family. Close enough to expose
ourselves to the danger of getting our feelings hurt.
In today's age, to be nice is what seems to be highest virtue, to be nice and
to be liked by everyone. Now, we have to understand that to be nice is NOT the
same as to be kind, which Paul calls us to be.
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