Tell them that they are all sons of God…
“They said, “Come, let’s make plans against Jeremiah; for the teaching of the law by the priest will not cease, nor will counsel from the wise, nor the word from the prophets. So come, let’s attack him with our tongues and pay no attention to anything he says.” Listen to me, Lord; hear what my accusers are saying! Should good be repaid with evil? Yet they have dug a pit for me. Remember that I stood before you and spoke in their behalf to turn your wrath away from them.” (Jeremiah 18:18-20)
“If you were of the world, it would love you as its own. Instead, the world hates you, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. Remember the word that I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you as well; if they kept My word, they will keep yours as well. But they will treat you like this because of My name, since they do not know the One who sent Me.…” (John 15:20-21)
Lenten Prayer: Jesus, Prince of Peace, you have asked us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. We pray for our enemies and those who oppose us. With the help of the Holy Spirit, may all people learn to work together for that justice which brings true and lasting peace. To you be glory and honor for ever and ever. Amen. Ora Pro Nobis.
Preaching about unpleasant things and death. Those are the serious costs of discipleship, of agreeing to carry our Cross, of entering the Kingdom. And Chesterton well knew that even though he is often characterized as being ‘winsome’ with enemies who were friends. Read throughout a great deal of his essays and work and you will find some very pointed truths. For example, he spared no one when he said quite pointedly that he “despised birth control” in an essay against that idea. He understood the difficulty but also the necessity of “preaching to the choir” because as he so aptly pointed out that most did not understand their own religion. He understood precisely the dilemma that the prophet Jeremiah faced in his day. Chesterton carries this idea forward in an essay from The Defendant when he observes the following:
“The person who is really in revolt is the optimist, who generally lives and dies in a desperate and suicidal effort to persuade all the other people how good they are. It has been proved a hundred times over that if you really wish to enrage people and make them angry, even unto death, the right way to do it is to tell them that they are all the sons of God. Jesus Christ was crucified, it may be remembered, not because of anything he said about God, but on a charge of saying that a man could in three days pull down and rebuild the Temple. Every one of the great revolutionists, from Isaiah to Shelley, have been optimists. They have been indignant, not about the badness of existence, but about the slowness of men in realizing its goodness. The prophet who is stoned is not a brawler or a marplot. He is simply a rejected lover. He suffers from an unrequited attachment to things in general.” – G. K. Chesterton, Introduction, The Defendant, 1904