In our lessons from scripture this week we will find encouragement in following the way we know to be true. At the beginning of his ministry in Luke’s gospel, and in his home town, Jesus is rejected. Local listeners in the synagogue don’t like what Jesus has to say about God’s love and protection extending to those who differ from them, to outsiders and outcasts. They were “filled with rage” and drove Jesus out of town, almost threw him off a cliff. “But he passed through the midst of them and went on his way.”
Paul’s much loved and often cited words in his first letter to the church in Corinth will be read aloud this Sunday. “Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. […] For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” Paul was telling the querulous Corinthians that the gifts they prized so highly—speaking in tongues, prophesying, mystical knowledge—were of no value. Only love matters, and only love will endure eternally. He was trying to show them the more excellent way that Jesus came to give us.
In the face of criticism and misunderstanding, we may be tempted to respond like the young Jeremiah in our Old Testament lesson, saying, “I don’t know what to say,” or “I am too unprepared to speak.” God told Jeremiah, “Do not be afraid of them. […] I have put my words in your mouth.” Those words, for us right now, need to be words of love in the face of hatred, of mercy in the face of judgment, and tolerance in the face of prejudice. As followers of Jesus, we are called to walk (and talk) in the more excellent way.