“If we do not have enemies, then are we truly preaching the Gospel?”
The Gospel is translated as “good news.” What is good news for one person is usually heard as bad news for another. To speak about good news for the poor entails a challenging message for the individuals who prosper due to systems of oppression. Good news for sinners might make individuals who are self-righteous question the worth of their commitment to God. Think of the older brother in the Prodigal Son parable. He did everything that his father asked, and is upset when his father sets out a feast for the return of his brother. The resistance to the Gospel message shows what the values are of the people who resist.
The lack of resistance we find in what we live and preach also reveal something about us too. Jesus tells us to expect that the Gospel will have enemies, that is people who oppose its preaching and its implications. He calls us to pray for enemies and those who persecute us (Mt 5:44). By persisting in our faith amidst difficult, we demonstrate the effects of grace in our lives to the wider world. Our joy and hope in the Lord stands in contrast to movements of despair and nihilism.
When we do not find people who oppose the way we live the Gospel, it leads me to wonder whether we have changed the Gospel to be more comfortable to others. Or, we have changed the Gospel so that we do not go through the discomfort of challenging ourselves from our political stances, financial decisions, or conceptions about other people that do not conform to the Gospel. Where we do not want to let go of our power and pride, the Gospel will always struggle to take root into our lives.
The Gospel is a challenge for us to live, and a challenge for those whose values and beliefs who differ. Let us pray for the grace that we take in the discomfort of living the Gospel authentically, and that God remove anything that separates us from him.
What is the discomfort of living the Gospel you have found in your life? Where are you tempted to make the Gospel into a more comfortable version?