Bending To Popular Opinions & Kissing Up To Authority?



Text: Matthew 11:2-11 

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

We are used to things bending and twisting in this life, like a reed in the wind. You know what I am talking about. A reed is a tall grass with a heavy top and a weak stem. And so, since a reed has a heavy top with all sorts of growth and often a hollow stem, it gets pushed in whatever direction the wind happens to be blowing. The point is, in this life, we are used to people, places, and things being like a reed and bending the way that popular opinion blows.  

I am certainly not trying to pick on the same-sex marriage issue more than any other issue in America.  But the legalization of same-sex marriage is a perfect example of a reed blowing in the wind. I can remember back in 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States made same-sex marriage legal. And what is unknown to many people is that for this to happen, the longstanding definition of marriage had to change. In other words, the majority of Americans had lived with one definition of marriage for over 2,000 years of Western Civilization. And then when the Supreme Court ruling happened – BOOM – 48 hours later their definition of marriage changed. And to make things more complicated, anyone who disagreed with them was automatically labeled a bigot and hateful. One day everything was okay; the next day, their parents and grandparents, and ancestors were all hateful bigots. The main point being, this is just one example of how thousands of people change like a reed blowing in the wind in a short amount of time, without much study on an issue.

Back to the point, though, there are indeed many persons, places, ideas, and things in this life that are nothing more than a reed blowing in the wind. The wind blows one way, and everything leans with the wind. And when the wind changes direction, everything snaps back the other way.   And as people who are a part of this American culture, we are often oblivious to these changes to the wind and the bending of the reeds. Often we are too busy with our own lives – paying bills, working overtime, washing dishes, and somehow managing to feed our kids. Sometimes we can feel the change of the wind, but then we do not notice anything because everyone is leaning in the same direction. So, we shrug our shoulders and lean with them without much thought.  

Things are further complicated, though. Oftentimes, people and institutions of power reward individuals who will be a reed that leans with their ideological wind. In other words, people and institutions of power will often blow like the wind. And to get people to not buck their wind, these entities of power will give lush rewards for bending the way that they want them to bend. You know what I am talking about? Just watch the television, and from time to time, you will see high-profile people on talk shows adamantly fighting for a certain cause. And you may say to yourself, 

"I never knew this pop artist, who typically sings about boys and sex, had such strong feelings about world economics and political policy." 

Or, 

"Who would've thought that behind this actor's potty humor on the big screen would be such depth of insight over such complicated issues in the world?"  

Ah, dear friends, do not be fooled. Reeds will blow in the wind to match the popular opinion of the day. And reeds will blow in the wind to appease certain powerful people and powerful entities. These reeds bend the way of the powerful winds because they like the handouts and lush treatment.  

But what does any of this have to do with the reading from the Gospel of Luke? Dear friends, everything!  

Jesus said in our Gospel reading that John the Baptist is not some reed blowing in the wind. In other words, Jesus said that John had convictions. He preached the Law and did not water it down. John was not fickle. He did not lick his finger and put it in the air to test which way the wind of popular opinion was blowing. John said it as it was. Furthermore, John was not an effeminate man who wore silk pajamas in a playboy mansion. John was not a recipient of fine clothing living in a king's house because he was a mouthpiece of the rich and powerful. John did not yield to popular opinions, and he certainly did not yield to the influential and the mighty.  

Dear friends, when we come to church, open the Bible, and encounter Biblical characters such as John the Baptist and Christ Jesus, what we typically will find and see is not just another reed blowing in the wind but something completely contrary to the fads of the present day.   

Think about it for a moment. Did John the Baptist care about the Pharisees and Sadducees? No! He blasted them. Did he care about Kind Herod? Not really. The reason was, he was not a reed blowing in the wind.   

And what about the Bible? Do the words of the Book always sound politically correct? Are the words of the Bible in tune with the sentiments of the present day? Does the Bible read like every other contemporary popular book, or does it stand out as something completely different?  

And what about Christ Jesus? What do we expect to see when we encounter Jesus in His Word? Is He a reed that blows in the wind agreeing with every single popular opinion of culture? Is Jesus open to the highest bidder? Is He corruptible by money and power? When the devil offered Jesus the wealth of the world, did Jesus say, "Where do I sign up?"  

Dear friends, thank goodness that John the Baptist, Christ Jesus, and the Word of God are not reeds blowing in the wind. Thank God that Christianity is not for sale to the highest bidder. Thank God that this Christian faith does not care which way the wind is blowing.  

Can you imagine for a moment if John was a reed blowing in the wind – speaking only pious coffee mug sayings that He heard on a recent daytime talk show? Can you imagine if Jesus wore silk pajamas given to him by people of power and only said what you recently heard on three different nightly news stations?  

If this were the case, everything would be lost to my friends. Seriously, think about this! If Christ Jesus were a reed blowing in the wind, perhaps He would not have died on the cross. Perhaps He would've gone along with the popular opinions of the day, conquered the Romans, and established a worldly empire while forgetting all about the forgiveness of sins and victory over death. Furthermore, perhaps, if the church were a reed blowing in the wind, it would not preach Law and Gospel but would tickle ears by following the clich├ęs, trends, and ideologies of the age. 

But dear friends, John the Baptist is not a reed blowing in the wind, and neither is Christ and His Word. Furthermore, the church should not be a reed blowing in the wind or for sale to the highest bidder. But instead, the church stands before our eyes, telling us how God has received us. 

Hear this loud and clear! It is against the very foundation of the church to be a reed shaking in the wind and imprisoned to the winds of power and influence because it is against the very person and work of Christ, our bridegroom.  

And so, when people have no stomach for solid teaching but fill up on spiritual junk food – catchy opinions that tickle their fancy – the church does not turn its back on truth or bend to the winds of popular opinion. The church accepts the hard times along with the good. It stays on point. It remains steadfast, even unto death. It remains firm rather than fall away. The church does not care about popularity, power, or influence, for these go the way of a bent reed. The church's foundation is not a bent reed; the church does not put its sail up to catch the wind of culture but instead collapses upon Christ Jesus the rock. 

Regardless of which way the wind blows, Christ Jesus and His Word are unchanging. Know this Baptized Saints: in every storm of your life, Christ is the anchor that holds you. In this vale of tears, Christ's rod and staff keep you secure. And when the winds blow, and the reeds bend around you, dear blessed Baptized Saints; listen to the message of John the Baptist. Let his thundering message of Law drive you to repentance and prepare you for the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. And as you hear and receive Jesus, know this too, that your Christ is not a reed that blows in the wind but a rock that stands secure for you.   

In the name of Jesus. Amen. 


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