Pieces of Truth
A bunch of years ago, I preached a sermon from Jesus' teaching on the Good Samaritan about what it means to love your neighbor. I mentioned in that sermon that our ideas of what constituted a neighbor were often light years away from God's.
I went on to say that our duty as Christians was to be humble enough to recognize the image of God in everyone, and to be led by that recognition to be the hands and feet of Christ.
At one point, I mentioned that the hundreds of thousands of undocumented people within the United States were not just numbers---they were real people with real stories, and that they were loved and cherished by God. And they were our neighbors.
As I stood at the door after the service greeting my parishioners as they left, two middle aged sisters who had been members of the church for some time stopped to express their outrage at what I'd said. They told me they wouldn't be returning.
"That was the most disgustingly liberal sermon I've ever heard," one of them said as she flounced out.
One of the many things I've learned over my years of preaching and pastoring is that sometimes merely lifting up the example of Jesus' words and deeds is enough to drive some people out of your church.
And this is because while the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus the Christ is meant to comfort the afflicted, more often than not it serves to afflict the comfortable.
We don't have to look to hard to see clearly how in our current culture far too many Christians have become comfortable in their beliefs---beliefs that aren't actually grounded in Jesus' words and even less in his example.
Fr. Anthony de Mello once told this parable:
The devil once went for a walk