Daily Reflection
September 10th, 2007

John O'Keefe

Theology Department
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In a famous scene in the play 1776, John Adams, after encountering serious resistance to his visions for America’s future, is depicted singing the words “does anybody see what I see, does anybody care?” Adams experiences the loneliness that can come with having a vision, trying to implement it, yet encountering inevitable resistance. Both Jesus and Paul had this experience, only, in their cases, resistance to the message was so intense they both wound up losing their lives for the cause.

One of the key features of Jesus’ ministry involved a struggle with certain elements within his native Judaism. Jesus wanted a Judaism where the law served the people and where the observance of the law did not do more harm than good. God gave the law to heal, not to harm. Many New Testament scholars note that Jesus’ challenge to the status quo was one of the key reasons for his arrest and subsequent execution. Likewise, Paul gave his life trying to open ancient Judaism to all the gentiles, who he was convinced God loved and wished to save. For his efforts he encountered resistance from both his fellow Jews and the gentile population to whom he preached.

Jesus and Paul offer us difficult examples of what we should do in the face of real resistance to our religious identity. They would seem to push us to dare to encounter it rather than meekly walk away. For most of us this will not lead to our deaths. It may mean an embarrassing moment at a meeting when, with sweaty palms, we raise an objection to a particular decision. It may come down to our choice of friends, to our investments, to where we live, or even to the cars we drive. We need to be willing to encounter the odd reactions and the incomprehension.

In our Christian life we should be worried if we never encounter resistance. We may pray that the resistance may not be too strong, but when it comes we can rest in the confidence of the psalmist: God “is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be disturbed.”

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