It’s Not Easy Being Green
Kermit the Frog laments that it is not easy being green.
Spending each day the colour of the leaves. When it might be nicer to be more colourful. Being green causes you to blend in with many other things. If you are green you aren’t flashy, you don’t sparkle like the stars in the sky.
Of course Kermit has a change of heart and realizes that being green is not so bad after all. There are many positive aspects about being green. He is still green, but that’s ok.
It’s Not Easy Being Green – Audio Sermon
The same analogy could be made of being a follower of Christ. Christians are sometimes portrayed as boring. As following a code, subjecting themselves to God. We don’t have a reputation as being fun at a party. Often our thinking is defined as narrow, our values outdated.
And yet for each of these things I have named you have perhaps thought to yourself, no that’s not true. I’m a lot of fun at parties, I am a progressive thinker.
So we have what we think we are and what society thinks we are. Often at odds, though occasionally in agreement.
What some call blind obedience we call discipleship. To be a disciple is to be a learner. One who sits at the feet of the teacher. To learn, to grow, to gain understanding, these are things we are called. Not to follow blindly, rather we are encouraged to question, to seek answers and to share what we learn. We are called to learn the way of Jesus. Just as the early Christians were known originally as Followers of the Way. The Way of Christ.
These images help us see discipleship as a journey. We follow the way, which implies that we are moving from one location to a next. We are continually learning. We do not finish school with all the knowledge we need for life. However, crucial on the path of discipleship is the topic of obedience. However, we should not see obedience as a bad word. As I have indicated it is not blind obedience. Yet, there is an important aspect of obedience within the Christian walk. If we are not obedient to Christ, to God then how are we Christian? If we do not follow and serve our God, how are we Christian.
Christ calls us into a life of obedience, obedience with his will. In becoming Followers of the Way we agree to be obedient to the teaching of Christ. Of course this carries consequences doesn’t it? Making this bold step forward in faith, in our discipleship with Christ can cost us.
Our passage from Matthew carries a dire message from Jesus about the cost. Jesus says,
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth;
I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.
When read out of context this passage sounds harsh. In fact many people deny this passage, arguing that the Jesus they know and love. The Jesus who died on the cross without resisting would never say these words. And if we are reading these words very literally then I think people who feel this way are right. Jesus wouldn’t say these things.
However, when we consider the message that Jesus brings. When we consider why Jesus dies for us in the first place perhaps we can see these words in a new way. A way that doesn’t seek to threaten the family unit.
Simply put we are sinful people. Daily we commit acts, think thoughts, say words which are hurtful and harmful to others. In some instances we do not intend it and in others we most certainly do intend to harm. We are not in proper relationship with one another or with God. Our value system is not properly aligned and in our selfishness we do not want to change that. We do not want to give up what we have and so we remain estranged from one another and from God. As a result we commit deeds which are hurtful and so the cycle goes.
Jesus knew all this we he came to dwell among us. Jesus came and taught us a better way, something that we claim to be a part of. However, when we compare what Jesus teaches and wants for us to what society teaches and wants for us we find that a disagreement exists.
What Jesus is saying with these words is that if you are going to follow me. If you are going to try to make things right then you are going to be at odds with others. That your very attempt to create harmony and proper relationship will create division and strife. Why? Because not everyone who hears the message of Christ understands or accepts it. Because there are those who think their own self-importance outweighs all other considerations and who will oppose us as a result. Jesus uses the family unit to demonstrate just how personal and how painful this could be.
Make no mistake friends there is a cost to being a follower of Christ. In today’s world, in a post-Christian secular world the cost of being Christian is most evident. What scripture teaches us and what society inundates us with are very different and we are forced to make a choice.
Any many people ridicule us for our choice. We are laughed at for our faith. We are mocked for our obedience, for worshiping on bended knee.
Of course we are not the first group of Christians to be misunderstood or persecuted, nor will we be the last. In fact what we experience in Canada is nothing compared to how Christians in India or Pakistan are treated. Nor is this a phenomenon that is unique to Christians. Misunderstandings and differences are a part of life that we accept. It is the handling of these misunderstandings and differences that matter.
Obedience to God is a two sided coin. On one side we recognize that we trust in the authority of God, revealed to us in Jesus Christ and scripture. On the other side is the responsibility to live out what we are being taught. As followers of Christ we listen to what God has to say to us and then when we are faced with a situation we consider it and make the appropriate response. Premeditated responses are not what God is looking for from us. Instead God is looking for discerning disciples to carry out God’s holy will.
Living out God’s holy will can be frightening. It can overwhelm us. Certainly Jeremiah experienced that feeling recognizing that God was stronger than he, that God had overpowered him. Jeremiah was called to an unpleasant prophetic ministry. He had to testify as to how the people had turned from God and how destruction was coming.
Yet, because he wanted people to repent, because he wanted people to be right with God he allowed that burning message within him to be heard. He spoke up even though he was ridiculed. He recognized that what God had called him to do mattered. Just as what God has called you to do matters. God was at the side of Jeremiah, strong and mighty. So too is God at your side, strong and mighty.
In our learning, in our obedience to God we are called to trust. To place out lives in the hands of the almighty, the everlasting, the creator, sustainer and redeemer.
Kermit the frog realized being green is what he wants to be. What do we want to be known as? How do we want to be seen? Do we stay true to the teachings of Christ? Do we follow in the example of Jeremiah? Do we say that even though the road is long and arduous it is still a road worth following? That the work we are called to do is worth doing?
I say yes. I say let’s follow in the way of Christ, aware of the consequences but committed to the cause. Amen.