It’s my week to teach Sunday school, and I’m stuck with a truly snore-worthy passage: the Sadducees questioning Jesus about the legitimacy of the resurrection. Ugh. Somehow, I doubt the preschool crowd will be entranced or inspired by a hypothetical merry widow working her way through seven brothers. Nor will they be impressed by the theological feats of derring-do performed by Jesus as he evades the traps in the Sadducees’ tricky question.
For my own part, I want to scream at the Sadducees: “Quit wasting time looking to discredit someone who’s just trying to help! Why are you so focused on the resurrection or lack thereof? There’s plenty to focus on in the here-and-now! Just do the best you can to love your neighbor and let all that other stuff sort itself out after you die! You should be making allies and finding solutions to the real problems of this world! Starving children. Institutionalized racism. Rape. Violence. Cruelty. Oh, and let’s not forget potentially irreversible climate change. Climb out of your self-righteous little hole and stop worrying so much about protecting your own power, already!”
Hey. Wait a minute, there.
Could I possibly be reacting to our current bitter election cycle? Could it possibly be that the long-dead Sadducees are not the powerful leaders who annoy me? Hi, my name is Kate. I’ve survived watching three presidential debates and I’ve got the emotional scars to prove it.
Hmm. Perhaps the fact that Jesus actually listened to the Sadducees and responded to their concern is proof of his divinity. He didn’t pivot. He didn’t use their question as a platform for attacking a scapegoat, vilifying an opponent, or bragging about his own greatness. He stayed on-topic. It indicates that (gasp!) he may have actually been listening.
I know plenty of people—myself sadly included—who have stopped listening to understand. We merely listen to respond or, even worse, we listen to confirm our own worst suspicions. And really, that’s not listening at all.
I want something better for my children. I want something better for myself. Maybe it’s time to grow up a little, shift my point of view, and do my own part to put the “civil” back in civil discourse.