This week Pastor Sean kicked off a new Sunday message series on dealing with difficulties, and he provided some concrete ways to deal with difficult people in our lives. It was good stuff, those five points he made. (If you missed it, catch the podcast!) But you know what I say? Pastor Sean’s advice is easier said than done!! Oh, yeah…way easier!
Truth be told, even Jesus had a tough time with difficult people (though he loved them). And I’m not just talking about the Pharisees. Those “teachers of the law” were obviously intent on putting Jesus down, trying to trap him, critical of his every move, and generally just a pain in the neck. Their big egos were totally transparent! But they weren’t the only ones Jesus had to contend with. Just look at the temptation scene (Luke 4). Jesus had Satan breathing down his neck. When that didn’t work, Satan unleashed his demons – who manifested themselves in people like the boy who was thrown into convulsions so that he foamed at the mouth (Luke 9:39). Talk about dealing with difficulties!
And then there were the disciples. We put them on a pedestal now-a-days, and rightly so. But it wasn’t always so easy for anyone but Jesus to see their potential. Just take a second look at the same story in Luke of the demon-possessed boy. The disciples were so inept at using the authority Jesus had given them that they couldn’t drive out this one single demon. Jesus’ words of rebuke were anything but gentle and kind. Can’t you almost hear him saying through gritted teeth, “O unbelieving and perverse generation, how long shall I stay here with you and put up with you?” Lack of faith had cast the disciples into the “difficult people” category. I’m glad Jesus doesn’t use that tone of voice with me, you know?
Then there’s the story about “an argument” among the disciples as to “which of them would be the greatest” Luke 9:46). Oh, yeah, talk about difficult people! Know anyone who’s in the quest for power and fame? They will use you like a towel fresh out of the dryer to dry their feet and mop their floor! It’s a good thing Jesus got that argument under control!
But here’s the deal. When all is said and done, and I look at those Jesus had to work with, I guess I can’t help but see some of myself, you know? I can be critical, clueless and cavalier. Some would even say stubborn, but don’t ask me who might say such a thing! I guess that’s why Jesus gave us all those scenarios in scripture…so we could see those, and repent of the same kinds of sins. Yeah, I know…easier said than done, that repentance stuff. Way easier.