Politicians must work with a variety of people and ideas, or "the messy world of relationships," the Rev. Daniel Hilty noted Monday morning, during Gov. Jay Nixon's Inaugural Worship Service.
And one of the best teachers that Nixon can follow in his work as Missouri's chief executive, Hilty said, is Jesus of Nazareth, who was "a very ecumenical kind of guy."
Hilty - senior pastor at Jefferson City's First United Methodist Church, where Nixon and his wife, Georganne, are members - said "Jesus finds faith and wisdom and insight in people from very different backgrounds."
In a message titled, "Lessons from All Sides," Hilty also noted that most Christians "would like to claim Jesus to endorse whatever our particular point of view would be," but eventually realize that Jesus' message speaks to people of many faiths.
Hilty's sermon was based on Jesus' Parable of the Good Samaritan, where the person who did the most to help the robbery victim beaten within an inch of his life came from a group the Jews of Jesus' day "had animosity for" - and vice-versa.
"And yet (the Samaritan) takes care of this Jewish man, and shows a love and compassion," the minister explained. "What Jesus is really asking his audience to do is learn a lesson in faith from someone who they think is wrong. ... an outsider (who was) "not one of us, but one of them.'"
In another story, Hilty noted, Jesus visits his friends, the sisters Mary and Martha - and Martha complains that Mary isn't doing enough around the house to help provide for Jesus as a guest.
While Jesus notes that Mary "is listening, and that will never be taken away from her," Hilty notes the bigger lesson 2,000 years ago was focused on a woman's right to learn, "an example for all of us to emulate."
Those teachings address issues we still face today, Hilty said: "How do we relate to the neighbors that God has given us?"
He told the 150 people attending the Inaugural Worship Service at First Baptist Church: "There are probably as many different answers to messy questions like those as there are people in this room. ... It can be difficult to know where to, even, begin (because relationships) are always so much easier to deal with in theory than they are in practice, aren't they? So much more complicated in practice."
But people who seek to "live in those tensions (and) listen to the wisdom and the lessons of life that God has to offer us from that other side" eventually will help lead us into the future, Hilty said.