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JESUSSIGN OF CONTRADICTION

Read­ing Time: 13 minutes

 

20th Sunday of the year [C] – August 14, 2016

(Ref. Text: Luke 12:49–53)

The truth of the mat­ter is that the whole world has already been turned upside down by the work of Jesus Christ” (D. Bon­hoef­fer). 

Genesis

In 1979, “Sign of Con­tra­dic­tion” was pub­lished. This book is a col­lec­tion of Len­ten dis­courses of bish­op Karol Józef Wojtyła, who later became pope John Paul II in 1978. “Sign of Con­tra­dic­tion” is a col­lec­tion of bish­op Wojtyla’s reflec­tions to pope Paul VI and his co-work­ers dur­ing their Len­ten Retreat in March 1976. The title of the book is a ref­er­ence to Simeon’s proph­ecy to Miryam in occa­sion of the Present­a­tion of Jesus in the Temple in keep­ing to the Jew­ish cus­tom (cf. Luke 2:22–32), that Jesus is destined to be the cause of the fall­ing and rising of many in Israel and will be a sign that will be rejec­ted. Fur­ther­more, because of him the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed, while a sword will pierce the mother’s soul (cf. Luke 2:34–35). Accord­ing to Wojtyla the words of Simeon “sum up most feli­cit­ously the whole truth about Jesus Christ and his mis­sion…” (Sign of Con­tra­dic­tion, p. 197).

Which Contradiction?

After read­ing this Sunday’s Gos­pel, the first cap­tion that came to my mind was Jesus, sign of con­tra­dic­tion, a cap­tion that re-called my mind to the Work of Wojtyla. But which con­tra­dic­tion? There are at least four ways of intend­ing this cap­tion ‘Jesus – sign of con­tra­dic­tion.’ Firstly, it could be an affirm­a­tion that implies Jesus con­tra­dicts him­self accord­ing to human under­stand­ing and eval­u­ation of Jesus’ words. Secondly, it could be an inter­rog­a­tion, where the inter­rog­a­tion mark expresses sur­prise on the part of believ­ers on wheth­er Jesus now con­tra­dicts him­self, by mak­ing con­tra­dict­ory utter­ances. Thirdly, it could be taken neg­at­ively by those who would want to dis­cred­it Jesus and his mis­sion by insist­ing on the lit­er­al under­stand­ing of his meta­phor­ic­al, alleg­or­ic­al and para­bol­ic teach­ings. Fourthly, sign of con­tra­dic­tion could be taken theo­lo­gic­ally and soteri­olo­gic­ally. It is this last mean­ing that I have in mind. Jesus, sign of con­tra­dic­tion, is a theo­lo­gic­al and salvif­ic affirm­a­tion that expresses the entire mis­sion of Jesus. It is also with this found­a­tion that the oth­er three defin­i­tions and the Gos­pel of this Sunday should be understood.

Understanding Contradiction

Accord­ing to its Lat­in ety­mo­logy, con­tra­dic­tion is a com­pound word, which derives from con­tra (against) and dicere (to speak). This means that con­tra­dic­tion is to speak against or speak­ing against someone or some­thing. As a noun, con­tra­dic­tion refers to: i) a com­bin­a­tion of state­ments, ideas, or fea­tures, which are opposed to one anoth­er, ii) a situ­ation in which incon­sist­ent ele­ments are present, iii) the state­ment of a pos­i­tion oppos­ite to one already made. While these three mean­ings reflect the first three ways of under­stand­ing con­tra­dic­tion as lis­ted in the pre­vi­ous para­graph, the Lat­in ety­mo­logy reflects the fourth mean­ing of sign of con­tra­dic­tion as theo­lo­gic­al and soteri­olo­gic­al affirm­a­tion. Jesus is that sign that was spoken against, that is spoken against and that will con­tin­ue to be spoken against by the unin­formed and the presumptuous.

Luke 2:34 and Acts 28:22

Besides our text, it will also be good to ded­ic­ate few lines on Luke 2:34 and Acts 28:22. After bless­ing the child, Simeon turned to the moth­er and said “behold, he is destined for the rise and fall of many in Israel, and a sign, which is spoken against.” Vari­ous Trans­la­tions render this Greek text dif­fer­ently. For instance, the New Revised Stand­ard Ver­sion (NRS/NRSV) has “this child is destined for the fall­ing and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed.” The New Amer­ic­an Bible (NAB) has “…and a sign that will be con­tra­dicted.” How­ever, all por­tray the same mean­ing. Trans­lated in a com­mon lan­guage, the text means Jesus will cause many in Israel to fall and rise, and he is a sign that people will speak against.

…destined for the fall and rise of many… (Greek text: kei­tai eis ptōsin kai ana­stas­in pollōn). The Greek term trans­lated as ‘destined’ is kei­tai from the verb keimai. In Luke 2:34, keimai is taken in the fig­ur­at­ive sense where in ref­er­ence to a per­son, it means be appoin­ted, set, destined. Hence, Jesus is appoin­ted, set, or destined to…. Fall and rise (or fall­ing and rising) refer to two Greek words ptōs­is and ana­stas­is. Like keimai, ptōs­is and ana­stas­is are to be under­stood in their fig­ur­at­ive senses. While fig­ur­at­ively, ptōs­is means ruin, down­fall, destruc­tion, ana­stas­is means growth in every sense, advan­cing to a high­er status, hence, rising espe­cially spir­itu­ally. Prac­tic­ally, ptos­is is the oppos­ite of ana­stas­is, which also means bring­ing back to life, that is, resur­rec­tion (cf. Matt 22:23; John 11:24; 1Cor 15:12ff). There­fore, that Jesus is destined for the rise and fall of many in Israel, Niger­ia and else­where means he will cause many to grow spir­itu­ally or be des­troyed spir­itu­ally (be saved or con­demned). Now, wheth­er a per­son dies or is des­troyed spir­itu­ally or wheth­er he or she rises or grows spir­itu­ally, depends on how the per­son reacts to Jesus’ words, teach­ings and actions.

… and a sign, which is spoken against (Greek text: kai eis sēmeion anti­leg­o­men). That Jesus is a sign is a deep theo­lo­gic­al affirm­a­tion. It is a strong theo­lo­gic­al theme in John. Fun­da­ment­ally, the Greek sēmeion (sign) means some­thing that serves as a point­er to some­thing or to someone. In this case, that Jesus is an sēmeion means he is a sign, a sign­post that points to the Fath­er. Con­sequently, who­ever wants to be saved must fol­low this sign­post (indic­a­tion) called Jesus, which in Greek means God saves. What a com­bin­a­tion! On the oth­er hand, the Greek verb for the Eng­lish ‘spoken against’ is anti­legō. Anti­legō means to con­tra­dict, speak against, refute (cf. Acts 13:45). Then, as reject­ing evid­ence, it means oppos­i­tion, rejec­tion as in Luke 2:34. As a sign lead­ing to the Fath­er and dif­fer­ent from the Reli­gious and Polit­ic­al author­it­ies, Jesus will be spoken against, opposed, refuted, rejec­ted and even­tu­ally, killed. And when, this hap­pens, a sword will pierce the soul of Miryam his moth­er. The sword that will pierce Miryam’s soul rep­res­ents the suf­fer­ings this moth­er under­went in see­ing her son tor­tured and hung on the cross.

In Acts 28:22, the Jew­ish lead­ers said to Paul “…we would like to hear from you what you think, for with regard to this sect we know that every­where it is spoken against.” If the Jew­ish lead­ers insist that Chris­ti­ans were spoken against every­where, it means they were rejec­ted and opposed because they were fol­low­ers of Jesus.

A Different Jesus?

The above ana­lys­is is the found­a­tion on which this Sunday’s Gos­pel is foun­ded. With it, we can com­pre­hend Jesus’ words in Luke 12:49–53. But wait! What kind of read­ing is this? Is this Jesus of Naz­areth, the savior of human­ity or anoth­er Jesus? Usu­ally, Jesus speaks of peace, but in Luke 12:49–53, it is dif­fer­ent. Why? Why is Jesus speak­ing like the lead­er of the bloody Boko Haram, ISIS (ISL/IS) and Al-Qaeda groups? Are you sure this read­ing is part of the teach­ings of Jesus? Can this be the same Jesus who invites Chris­ti­ans to love their enemies, pray for those who per­se­cute them, turn the oth­er cheek, etc. (cf. Matt 5)? Is this the same Jesus that abhors viol­ence (cf. Matt 26:51–52)? How can Jesus say some­thing like this? Are you sure the Greek text is not wrongly trans­lated? These and oth­ers are the ques­tions which people ask each time they read or hear the words of Jesus in Luke 12:49–53.

If a ref­er­en­dum is held today among Chris­ti­ans, on wheth­er these words of the Gos­pel should be removed or attrib­uted to Jesus, there is no doubt the “yes” option will win with a large mar­gin. Some­times, Chris­ti­ans appear as Jesus’ attor­neys. This is not neces­sary! Chris­tian­ity ori­gin­ated in a cul­tur­al con­text for­eign espe­cially to the West­ern and Afric­an back­grounds. Con­sequently, the fol­low­ing ques­tion must be asked: Were Chris­tian­ity and the bib­lic­al world embraced without adequate know­ledge of its sur­round­ing cul­ture, lan­guage, men­tal­ity, mor­al­ity, theo­logy, philo­sophy, psy­cho­logy, social, intel­lec­tu­al and eco­nom­ic and life views? If the answer is in the affirm­at­ive, Chris­ti­ans will always be in crisis each time they are con­fron­ted with read­ings like the one we have in this Sunday’s Gos­pel. If we under­stand that Jesus’ words reflect the Lukan theo­logy and the mod­us par­landi of that world, then, we shall have no dif­fi­culty in com­pre­hend­ing it is the same Jesus who spoke and, who con­tin­ues to speak.

Understanding Luke 12:49–52

Jesus must have shocked the dis­ciples with these words. After explain­ing to them the neces­sity of watch­ful­ness and faith­ful­ness, he launched these mis­siles, which must have left the dis­ciples and the crowd speech­less. For those who are con­vers­ant with the cul­tur­al set­ting of Jesus’ teach­ings, the meta­phor employed by Jesus in today’s Gos­pel presents no dif­fi­culty. Jesus talks about fire, bap­tism and divi­sion. What exactly is Jesus allud­ing to? Let us take those expres­sions one after the other.

I have come to bring fire on earth…. With these words, Jesus declares his mis­sion. This mis­sion does not con­tra­dict what we have in Luke 4:18–19. Rather, it solid­i­fies and gives mean­ing to it. What kind of fire is Jesus refer­ring to? The Greek word pur (fire) has lit­er­al and fig­ur­at­ive senses. Lit­er­ally, it refers to that earthly phe­nomen­on which can even des­troy (cf. Luke 9:54; Matt 17:15). It will be funny to con­clude that Jesus was refer­ring to fire in this sense. Most of the occur­rences of fire in the Book of Rev­el­a­tion is in the lit­er­al sense. Fig­ur­at­ively, pur could refer to: i) God’s judg­ment in which case, as a place of pun­ish­ment (cf. Matt 3:10); ii) meta­phor­ic­ally, as a destruct­ive force. As a destruct­ive force like fire, we must con­trol our tongues because of the harm it could cause oth­ers (cf. Jas 3:5–6; 5:3); iii) as a mani­fest­a­tion of God’s pres­ence (cf. Acts 7:30; Rev 1:14; Exod 3:1–2); iv) finally, pur has a theo­lo­gic­al mean­ing in which case, it sig­ni­fies the puri­fy­ing force adop­ted by God (cf. 1Pet 1:7) to cleanse his cre­ation. The tri­als, dif­fi­culties, suf­fer­ings of believ­ers and the per­se­cu­tions inflic­ted on them are fire, which pur­i­fies them and makes them worthy to behold the pres­ence of the Almighty. It is in this sense that Jesus’ use of fire in Luke 12:49 should be under­stood. It is fire with theo­lo­gic­al con­nota­tion. Through it, believ­ers will be pur­i­fied and made worthy (cf. Rev 7:14–15). There­fore, that Jesus has come to bring fire on earth means he has come to sep­ar­ate believ­ers from unbe­liev­ers, those who speak against and those who speak for (cf. Luke 12:51–53). The fire he brings is not a ref­er­ence to final judg­ment. Con­trar­ily, it is the puri­fy­ing and refin­ing fire of divi­sion between those who wel­come the Good News, and those who oppose and reject it. And he desires that this puri­fic­a­tion (sep­ar­a­tion) takes place imme­di­ately. Mat­thew 10:35 cla­ri­fies this fur­ther. In this text, Jesus says he has come to sep­ar­ate (divide in two) those who accept and/from those who do not accept the message.

I have a bap­tism to be bap­tized…. Hav­ing declared his mis­sion, Jesus went on and stated how he was to real­ise such mis­sion. Inter­est­ing is the play of words baptisma…baptisthēnai (baptism…to be bap­tised). Cer­tainly, Jesus is not refer­ring to an ordin­ary immer­sion and emer­sion (cf. Luke 7:29; Matt 3:7; Rom 6:4), which we all received either as infants, or as adults, and which cos­ted us noth­ing. The con­clud­ing part of the verse con­firms this. While our own bap­tism is in the lit­er­al sense, Jesus’ bap­tisma is fig­ur­at­ive. Fig­ur­at­ively, bap­tisma refers to a tri­al by suf­fer­ing, it is mar­tyr­dom (cf. also Mark 10:38). Jesus is refer­ring to his pas­sion and does not hide his pains and feel­ings (cf. Matt 26:37–42). This should not be seen as weak­ness on the part of Jesus, he was only try­ing to be human and hon­est. Jesus con­cludes by say­ing that until this suf­fer­ing (bap­tism) passes, he is not relaxed. In the pass­ive sense, the Greek term sun­echō means to be dis­tressed, hard pressed, to devote one­self com­pletely to a cause. To sun­echō should also be joined teleō mean­ing to ful­fil, accom­plish, com­plete. There are two ways to under­stand this. Firstly, in rela­tion to the kind of bap­tism to be bap­tized with, it means Jesus is dis­tressed, hardly pressed until this bap­tism is ful­filled or accom­plished. That is, until this suf­fer­ing passes, Jesus is highly dis­turbed. This is the inter­pret­a­tion most Trans­la­tions sug­gest. In fact, most Eng­lish Trans­la­tions render sun­echō as dis­tressed. While the New Jer­u­s­alem Bible (NJB) has “…and what con­straint I am under…”, the French Trans­la­tion (BFC) says “…et quelle ango­isse pour moi…” For the French ver­sion, this bap­tism is an anguish/tribulation for Jesus, and until it is ful­filled, he remains dis­turbed. Secondly, sun­echō could be inter­preted as can­not wait. Jesus can­not wait for this bap­tism to be accom­plished. In this case, it expresses Jesus’ burn­ing enthu­si­asm and great expect­a­tion for this bap­tism to be ful­filled. Both inter­pret­a­tions are in order. Although Jesus knows he is going to suf­fer, he is dis­tressed and highly dis­turbed, but at the same time, he can­not wait for this great theo­lo­gic­al and soteri­olo­gic­al moment to be accom­plished in him and through him. The inter­rog­at­ive adverb pōs is not an inter­rog­a­tion per se but an exclam­at­ory particle mean­ing how, how greatly! Jesus anxiously awaits for his bap­tism (pas­sion) to be fulfilled/accomplished. This is the same anxi­ety that should accom­pany us in our vari­ous mis­sions and voca­tions. At this point, we can trans­late Luke 12:50 as “I have a suf­fer­ing to be suffered with, how dis­tressed I am until it is accom­plished! It is this bap­tism that renewed and renews the spir­itu­al life of Chris­ti­ans (cf. 1Pet 3:21).

Do you think I have come to give peace on earth…? After stat­ing his mis­sion and how he intends accom­plish­ing it, Jesus launches anoth­er mis­sile, which def­in­itely dumb­foun­ded not only the dis­ciples, the crowd but also the con­tem­por­ary Chris­ti­ans. Chris­ti­ans might ask: Does Jesus’ words not con­tra­dict his pre and post resur­rec­tion wishes of peace to the dis­ciples in John 14:27 and 20:19.21.26 respect­ively? The answers to these inter­rog­a­tions will emerge at the end of our ana­lys­is of this verse. Luke 12:51 fol­lows nat­ur­ally to verse 49. If pur of verse 49 refers to the sep­ar­a­tion of those who accept the Gos­pel and those who reject it, then, there is only one word to describe this situ­ation, and that is ‘divi­sion.’ Remem­ber, this divi­sion should not be under­stood accord­ing to our lan­guage where it imme­di­ately implies quar­rel and hatred. Con­trar­ily, it should be under­stood as dis­tinc­tion between group A and group B. that is, between those who accept and those who do not accept. It is a theo­lo­gic­al divi­sion as in Mat­thew 25:31–46.

The Greek word eirēnē trans­lated as peace has dif­fer­ent mean­ings depend­ing on the con­text. Lit­er­ally, eirēnē is a state of peace as opposed to con­flict and/or war (cf. Luke 14:32). In the fig­ur­at­ive sense, eirēnē could mean i) lack of divi­sion among indi­vidu­als, groups, com­munit­ies, and asso­ci­ations espe­cially, where justice and truth reign (cf. Jas 3:18). Peace can nev­er be obtained in the midst of injustice and lies. In such situ­ation, you can only have divi­sions and fac­tions; ii) as an equi­val­ent of the Hebrew sha­lom, eirēnē is a form of greet­ing in which case, it means wel­fare, health, peace, suc­cess and everything pos­it­ive (cf. John 20:19.21.26; 1Tim 1:2); iii) again, as a reli­gious propensity marked by inner tran­quil­ity and con­cord, eirēnē means peace, hope and free from appre­hen­sion (cf. Rom 15:13). In Luke 12:51, Jesus said he has not come to give peace but divi­sion. It is only the Greek text that can bring out the beauty of this say­ing. Jesus’ use of eirēnē is not in the lit­er­al sense. That means, he has not come to cause war or con­flict. There are two words to be taken into con­sid­er­a­tion here: eirēnē and dia­mer­is­mos. While the former means agree­ment, unity, the lat­ter means dis­agree­ment, dis­unity, that is, divi­sion or dis­sen­sion. Accord­ing to the fig­ur­at­ive mean­ings of eirēnē as lis­ted above, the first entry says eirēnē means lack of divi­sion among people. It is the con­di­tion in which people wheth­er as indi­vidu­als, groups or fam­il­ies have a com­mon agree­ment. Where such agree­ment is not pos­sible, the out­come is divi­sion. Although this divi­sion can degen­er­ate to quar­rel, it does not auto­mat­ic­ally imply that. It simply por­trays dif­fer­ence of opin­ion, which calls for tol­er­ance and respect. It is dis­sen­sion, the tak­ing of sides. This is what the atti­tude of people to the mes­sage of Jesus will lead to. It will make people to dis­agree thereby divid­ing them into those who agree and those who do not agree (cf. Luke 12:49). This is the mean­ing of Jesus’ words that he has not come to give peace but divi­sion. Sim­il­arly, the sword of Mat­thew 10:34 indic­ates hos­til­ity, a meta­phor of the unavoid­able sep­ar­a­tion between ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ Nor­mally, those who do not agree tend to be hos­tile. The Jew­ish author­it­ies belong to this group. Because divi­sion can degen­er­ate to quar­rel and hatred, and in some instances death, Chris­ti­ans must keep watch and desist from harm­ing one anoth­er even when they do not have a com­mon agree­ment on issues.

Assimilating Luke 12:52–53

Luke 12:52–53 is simply the applic­a­tion of Luke 12:51, which itself is an explan­a­tion of verse 49. Reac­tions to the Good News begins from the fam­ily setup. This is anoth­er inter­est­ing les­son from Jesus and Luke, con­firm­ing the import­ance of the fam­ily. As we all know, the found­a­tion of every soci­ety is the fam­ily. What people are in their vari­ous fam­il­ies, they por­tray in the wider soci­ety wheth­er civil or reli­gious. No mat­ter our argu­ment, this truth remains fun­da­ment­al. As P. J. Abdul Kalam rightly observes, if a coun­try is to be cor­rup­tion free and become a nation of beau­ti­ful minds, then, there are three key soci­et­al mem­bers who can make this pos­sible. They are the fath­er, the moth­er and the teach­er. Agree­ment (eirēnē) or dis­agree­ment (dia­mer­is­mos) as regards the teach­ings of Jesus begin from the fam­ily. This is the dia­mer­is­mos that Jesus has come to give and the eirēnē that he has not come to give. It is a meta­phor­ic­al say­ing indic­at­ing people’s atti­tude and reac­tion to the Gos­pel mes­sage. A par­al­lel text to Luke 12:51–53 is Mat­thew 10:34–36. Both pro­gress, fail­ure, oppos­i­tion, sup­port, praise, con­dem­na­tion, accept­ance and rejec­tion begin from the fam­ily. Who else could have said this bet­ter if not Jesus who him­self was rejec­ted by his own people (cf. Luke 13:53–58; Mark 3:21; John 7:3–5). The prin­cip­al mes­sage of Luke 12:52–53 and Mat­thew 10:34–36 is that the love of God and the king­dom must take pre­ced­ence over every oth­er activ­ity of human­kind. It is the choice to give God pre­ced­ence that causes divi­sion even in the fam­ily. Jesus’ words in Mat­thew 10:37 cla­ri­fies fur­ther: “Who­ever loves fath­er or moth­er more than me is not worthy of me, and who­ever loves son or daugh­ter more than me is not worthy of me.” The choice is yours.

Conclusion

Jesus was and is still (via the Gos­pel) a rad­ic­al who calls for rad­ic­al decision. Atten­tion! My use of rad­ic­al should not be under­stood as strange or fun­da­ment­al­ism. It is going against a com­mon and selfish interest. It is being ori­gin­al and refus­ing to be mem­ber of the crowd (cf. M. Heide­g­ger). To be rad­ic­al is to be object­ive, just and work­ing for the com­mon good. It is god­li­ness. There is no middle way in the call for dis­ciple­ship. It is either a clear yes or a clear no. This is the fire Jesus brought and keeps bring­ing to human­ity. As an hon­est lead­er and a lead­ing ser­vant, he showed his own desire in ful­filling his own mis­sion, which he described as bap­tism and which he con­vin­cingly accom­plished, bring­ing sal­va­tion to human­ity. The decision to imit­ate him must nat­ur­ally arouse divi­sion. This divi­sion is simply the con­sequence of the decision to abide by the teach­ings of Jesus, which cer­tainly, were new, and dif­fer­ent in the con­text they were giv­en. The per­se­cu­tions of the early Chris­ti­ans speak for themselves.

Fur­ther­more, Jesus is really a sign of con­tra­dic­tion. He is a sign that is spoken against, opposed and rejec­ted. Even today, Jesus con­tin­ues to be sing of con­tra­dic­tion. The worst people that speak against Jesus, reject and pre­tend to believe and love him are Chris­ti­ans. With their ever-increas­ing hypo­crisy, arrog­ance, pre­sump­tion, fake spir­itu­al­ity, decep­tion, mater­i­al­ism, lob­by­ing, and the quest for power, they con­tin­ue to reject and speak against Jesus. What causes divi­sion amongst us is no more the decision to abide by the Gos­pel. We are divided and con­tin­ue to be divided because of our selfish­ness, mater­i­al­ism and the uncon­trolled pas­sion for power. While Jesus spoke of theo­lo­gic­al divi­sion, ours is divi­sion in the lit­er­al sense. We ruin one anoth­er just to emerge and be applauded by people. We play dan­ger­ous and deadly polit­ics in the Church deceiv­ing ourselves, and pre­tend­ing to be doing the will of God. There are divi­sions in almost all the groups and asso­ci­ations in the Chris­ti­an churches. Divi­sions attrib­ut­able to selfish­ness and wan­ton­ness. This is the situ­ation today. Because we want to be at the cen­ter of everything, we detest the truth and are ready to elim­in­ate any­one who opposes our evil plans (cf. First Read­ing). Though sur­roun­ded by sin­ful and evil minds, we must per­severe, fix­ing our minds unto God who knows how to handle every situ­ation (cf. Second Reading).

Jesus embraced his mis­sion with great enthu­si­asm. What is your atti­tude to your own mis­sion? Chris­tian­ity is a mis­sion and a voca­tion. With which spir­it are Chris­ti­ans liv­ing this voca­tion? It is not enough to pro­fess with our lips that we believe in God and that we have accep­ted Jesus as our per­son­al lord and saviour. Any­one can utter these words. Do what we pro­fess tally with what we do and how we treat and inter­act with oth­ers? My guess is as good as yours!

Dear friend, are you per­se­cuted or con­demned because of your reli­gious belief? Be cour­ageous! Des­pite the plan of the god­less to kill Jeremi­ah, God res­cued him. How­ever, you must ensure that your suf­fer­ing is due to adequate com­pre­hen­sion and adhe­sion to Jesus’ teach­ing and not a fruit of awk­ward spir­itu­al­ity, fun­da­ment­al­ism and reli­gious obses­sion and/or infatu­ation. Remem­ber, whatever you do or say, God must have pre­ced­ence. To do oth­er­wise is to be spir­itu­ally para­lyzed and to be dis­posed for every evil. May this nev­er be your por­tion! But this depends on you. Have a blessed week and God bless you! Sha­lom!

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