Soteronym (hate and love in His Name) / Matthew 10:22-33/ Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht/ Sunday June 21st 2020 / Season of Pentecost / Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Text: Matthew 10:5; 21-33
Theme: “Soteronym (hated and saved by My Name’s sake)”
Intr – Here’s a new word for you in case you haven’t come across with it yet: contronym. The definition of contronym is: “a word that is its own antonym.” That is, depending of the usage it means both one thing and its exact antonym. Some examples:
_“Because of the agency’s oversight, the corporation’s behavior was sanctioned.” What does “sanction” mean here, a penalty for a transgression, or an approval by default?
Left – This word can mean either remaining or departing. If I withdraw from the Church after a regular Service, and the members remain here, I have left the room but many members are left here.
Fast - It can be moving fast, or unmoving. “I run fast to the room where the boy was holding fast to his toys”
Off - means "deactivated," as in to turn off, but also "activated," as in the alarm went off.
Many other examples could be tossed out here… oops, what does toss out mean in this context? Anyway, you could think about cleave, seed, screen… As you use them, they express what you want to say but also it could be used as its exact opposite.
What does that have to do with our Gospel for today? Let me put it out to you. Well, here it means “making it visible to you”, for it can also mean “invisible”, like when you put the lights out. Last Sunday we heard about the name we received in our Baptism. We have received God’s name, and the Triune God is our only chance to experience a healthy and well balanced spirituality. Now, a healthy, well balanced spirituality doesn’t mean also “free of trouble”. The Gospel brings a contronym that makes it clear…. The name. “and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (v.22). Jesus’ name will bring hate upon our Christian life. Also, God is Love, Jesus is love, and we know that there is no salvation in no other name under heaven that the name of Jesus. His Name means hate. But also means Love – Salvation.
We just have to look around and see. The same name we worship, adore, place our hope and security is the same One that if spelled out clearly will make us be hated by the World. From light topics to the harder ones, if we venture to express our faith in the biblical teachings we might draw some love and consideration for sure, but we will certainly draw many words of condemnation and even hate, as free speech rapidly becomes “hate speech”.
When we hear that Jesus’ name brings salvation, but also hate, we are reminded of something that was all along the way with many Christians before us and we need constantly to relearn: Persecution. Then we realize that we Christians need to be constantly taught and to relearn about being persecuted. It’s good when things are calm and peaceful for us to live out our faith. But we shouldn’t get too used to it.
Firstly, persecution comes from outside, and we need to deal with it. With firmness, but also with patience and love, we endure ordeals for His name sake because we ultimately want to share salvation with the very ones persecuting us. Remember Jesus saying, “pray for your enemies”. One of the main reasons for this is because Jesus died for them too.
But don’t forget that challenges to our faith also arise from inside the Church. From time to time, we may see attitudes that look like a summoning to a crusade against those that diverge from Christian positioning. When our faith is attacked, we might be invited to strike back; sometimes with the same weapons; sometimes, worse ones.
If Christians pull together to pay back with the same currency others use, they are not on the exact same page as Jesus. When Christians are simply trying to gain, or not to lose, political space, instead of mainly taking a stand for Christian faith, they are forfeiting their duty to care about the polis (city) and its inhabitants. If we really want to engage in a battle, we cannot forget what weapons God, through St. Paul assigned to it in the Bible.
More than that, we must never forget that it is the Word of God that carries power and efficacy, not human strength and argumentation.That is, it is not by political articulation, better rhetoric or the loudest tone of voice, as important as they may be sometimes, that we will make the Gospel prosper. The Holy Spirit alone can make it go forward as He acts through us. And He always fulfills His purpose, even if it's not exactly the one we anticipated.
This does not mean, of course, that we should not position ourselves and 'fight' in the field of dialogue, especially when it comes to the witness of our faith. But we can’t conclude from there that we would be free of persecution, disdain, anger, hatred or even imprisonment – physical or intellectual. At this point, brothers further east from here in different points of the Globe can help us to remember and relearn what it means to be physically persecuted for our faith.
The Gospel for today seems largely bleak and gloomy. Well, it is in a way. I have shared with members in our Bible studies and conversations that we need to be prepared, or to prepare the next generation, for persecution. There may come the day when you will enter a store and they’ll recognize you. Then they’ll say: “Oh, you are from that Church that doesn’t support…” and they’ll mention whatever ideology is going around that as Christians we can’t really back up. And then the invitation might be: “You are invited to leave, you are not welcome here. Go to another place”.
On the other hand, Jesus’ words are very promising because as we learn we can’t stand on our own, we know someone does that for us. Christ is the one who went to the cross. Christ is the one who reconnected us with God. His Name brings salvation, peace and love. He brings meaning to the words of The Word to our hearts as we hold fast to the Scriptures with no rush to run fast into the arms of the Word. We are assured that He won’t play with contronyms, that is, His teachings cannot be their exact opposite(as sometimes Biblical teaching and Theology sound like in many contexts). His words are clear, we are secure in Him. We have in His name everything we need.
That’s why a better definition for Jesus’ Name would be not a contronym but a soteronym. Soter, in Greek, means “Saviour”. Salvation is both inclusive – is for all, and exclusive – in Christ alone. The soteronym JESUS brings with it hate and Love, Law and Gospel, condemnation and Salvation, distancing and closeness.
We are not out to promote a violent crusade against those who do not agree with the Gospel, be it the ones who are polite or the ones who call us ignorant and hateful. Actually, to be noticed for your faith and to be persecuted for manifesting should be a source of joy for anyone who is a follower of Christ. Jesus wants to constantly call sinners to repentance, whatever side of the argument he or she is on.  And when our faith is noticed to the point of being contradicted and even insulted that is actually another reason to be thankful to the Holy Spirit for maintaining us steadfast in God’s Word and Love.
And of course, we need to underline that our work is based on love and consideration. Sometimes we need to be firm and affirming. But as Christians we don’t want just to flog people with the Law, but ultimately we want to keep flogging the Gospel out so forgiveness and life may be outpoured over many. As Christians we can’t help but help our neighbour. This is our mission. Thus we want to run fast to do as we hold fast to Him, the soteronym that brings us forgiveness and Salvation.
Cc - So don’t toss that word out. Toss His name out there so that many people would come to know Him. Don’t go out of your faith but live out of it. Hold up the Name of the one who never holds you up. Jesus fought with the devil so you can fight with Him and in Him in this world. That Name may make us hated. But it is a soteronym. The one that makes us wise to salvation in Jesus Christ.
 An expression still waiting for an objective definition.
 Matthew 5
 Ephesians chapter 6
 We must remember though that God is the one who sets the limits. “The enemies of the Gospel can persecute Christians only within the limits set by our heavenly Father. Since he is in charge of our lives, we need not be afraid of those who oppose us, as we confess ourselves to belong to Christ. And we are confident of his love, not because of what we have done, but because He died and rose to redeem us from sin, death and the power of the devil. The nature of following Jesus can result in conflicts and divisions within families, as well as the family of faith as incredible as it may seem. Jesus wants his disciples to strive for eternal life, even if it means sacrificing earthly benefits. Focus on Christ, see Christ, seek strength in Christ and rely entirely on the Savior Jesus Christ!” (Rev. Paulo Brum, Sermon on Matthew 10, June 21st, 2020).
 This reminds us that we need not only constantly relearn to be persecuted, but especially to express gratitude for faith - a word with a defined referent that already has its translation.