I visited my family in Kentucky last week and took long walks every morning. Since I grew up here, they’ve laid a sidewalk that runs parallel to the main road. The project was funded by selling bronze plaques now inlaid with the concrete. It’s beautiful. As you walk along you see messages of what neighbors hold most dear. The names of family members long departed. Scripture citations. Blessings and wishes for days full of health, gratitude, joy and love. And one brass plaque that simply reads: Our Confederate Dead, 1863-1983
It stopped me in my tracks, and I’ve been wondering about it ever since. The ones who paid dearly to lay that marker, what were they trying to say to us? Those who fought in the Civil War on behalf of the Confederacy–that choice isn’t the only true thing about them. They were also sons and fathers and brothers and neighbors, perhaps wonderful ones. But their legacy is aligning with an evil cause.
My point isn’t that the people memorialized on that plaque are monolithically evil. It’s much more disturbing than that. I believe they are just like us. Those men and women were the same mixture of goodness and fear and shallowness and glory as the rest of us. They were the beloved for whom Christ died, just like us. Except they probably read their Bibles and worshipped more frequently than we do.
And yet, when it was time to pick a side–they choose the wrong one.
Which is why we need the mind of Christ as it is revealed to us through scripture and by the Holy Spirit–because there are moments when living by Kingdom values will be seen as a betrayal of all those we love hold most dear. And we must be salt and light anyway.
These parables we are studying are lifelines, tethering us to the way of the Lord when the whole world pulls us elsewhere. As scripture commands us, we must work out our faith with fear and trembling and renew our minds in Christ. Saved by grace, we can’t be confident in our own wisdom or righteousness. Because much as I’d love to confidently declare otherwise, who can say what choice I’d have made if I’d grown up in my home town 150 years ago?
Scripture Readings: Luke 15:18-10 – Matthew 13:44-46 – Matthew 13:31-32