Luke 9:51-62 with I Kg 19:15-21, Gal 5:1
A dialogue sketch for 3 voices, A, B (more positive), C (more negative).
A. I had a funny conversation last week.
B. Tell me, I could do with a good laugh.
A. No, it wasn’t funny that way. I was talking to Bill – nice enough person to talk to, though I’m never sure if his wife has met his girlfriend or the taxman knows much about the offshore accounts. Anyhow, I was standing waiting for someone, and Bill starts to ask all sorts of questions.
B. What sort of questions?
A. Well, I suppose he knows that I come to church, and he started to ask me whether it was difficult being a Christian. I was a bit taken aback, I mean you don’t expect that outside Marks and Spencer’s, do you?
B. No, I suppose not. So what did you say?
A. I’m afraid I waffled a bit; it would have been easier with a bit of notice. In fact I was going to ask what you’d have said.
B. Well, since we have got all these people here, why don’t we ask them? (to the congregation): You have 3 minutes to discuss with the people round you how you would have answered Bill, “Is it difficult being a Christian?”
(gap of 3-5 min for small group discussion; A & B sit)
B. OK, time’s up. (to A) So, what did you say to Bill. Is it difficult being a Christian?
A. I think I said that there were things Christians didn’t do, which could be hard to avoid, but that it all seemed worthwhile. It’s hard to explain to someone who doesn’t know what its like.
C. That’s true, and it would have been easier if he had asked after this Sunday’s readings, too.
A. Do they have any answers?
C. Well, Jesus seemed to be putting people off following him – “No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” That’s a bit forbidding.
A. I suppose he meant that you must be clear – you either live as a Christian or you don’t, you can’t keep changing your mind.
B. Rather like Elisha going with Elijah – he really burnt his boats, or should I say, “cooked his oxen”, didn’t he? No chance of going back there.
C. Yes, and the way Jesus told off James and John is a bit daunting. They only wanted to protect Jesus from insult, but he really tells them off in front of the others for wanting to destroy the Samaritan village with fire from heaven, and he makes them all go further to find lodgings.
B. That would suggest that being a Christian was difficult.
A. Because you didn’t get your own way, or because you could get told off?
C. Both, I can’t say I enjoy either much.
B. But what about the second reading?
C. The one from the letter to the Galatians, you mean?
B. Yes, that had a great first line; “For freedom Christ has set us free”.
A. That was good, but then it seemed to say that loving your neighbour was really difficult.
C. (gloomily) Perhaps it depends on the neighbours you have!
B. I suppose it is difficult, at least humanly speaking.
A. Because we all get a bit grumpy at times?
B. More than that. We want all sorts of things, and unless there is a really good reason not to – or perhaps something else that we want even more – we fight and quarrel, and it all gets out of hand very quickly.
C. I think I’ve seen that, and you’re right, it can be very nasty.
A. But there must be an answer!
B. Yes, and that’s the bit I like. We aren’t just left to be mean and competitive. God knows perfectly well the problem, so he offers us the Holy Spirit.
C. But isn’t that another thing we have to try to do? We’ve talked about Jesus expecting a lot from his disciples, and being quite hard on them. Isn’t this just making it more difficult?
A. Bill would have run a mile if I’d told him that!
B. No, it’s not making it more difficult, it’s showing us the solution!
C. Which is?
B. How can I put it? God doesn’t expect us to put everything right by our own effort – that would be a killer. He knows that left to our own devices we are terribly selfish, so he asks us to let the Holy Spirit change us. He talks about fruit – the things the Spirit will “grow” in us
A. if we let him do the gardening, and don’t trample all over the plot?
C. That’s a bit more encouraging – sharing the load.
A. Yes. So what do you think I should have said to Bill.?
C. Well, don’t you think we ought to ask the congregation. Go on, we’ll give them 2 minutes to tell one another what they think they should say if Bill, or anyone else, asks them “Is it difficult being a Christian?”
(again, pause, but for 1-2 min)
B. Don’t you think we’d better tell them our answers?
C. Oh, all right. I think I would say to Bill that being a Christian was difficult, because Jesus asks some hard things of us, but nothing as hard as he did himself.
B. That’s true, but I would want to say that being a Christian isn’t easy because you have to keep at it, but it is so wonderfully worthwhile that it doesn’t seem like hard work.
A. And I think I would want to say that I have lots of friends in church who know about it from different angles, so why doesn’t he come along and meet them and see what they say.
C. Isn’t that cheating?
A. Well, it may avoid finding the right words, but I think Bill would find a lot to help him here, and he needs to know there are all sorts of people who find Christian life important and really helpful.
B. Fair enough – when are you bringing him along?
(About 1000 words, 10 minutes) (Click here to return to Index of Sketches)