I am grieved whenever I read a Christian blog and find whole-group condemnation. No love, no invitation, no healing, no compassion – simply exclusion, anger, and judgment.
How can we as Christians pick and choose which of Jesus’ commands to follow? How can we as Christians justify ignoring Him because it’s uncomfortable? Because we think He would be pleased with our “passion?” Because we’ve decided we’re doing His work?
Why is it we think we can choose to ignore “Love your enemy” because our emotions have become a stumbling block? Since when is it okay to withhold compassion from those we hate or disapprove of? How is it we can decide our enemies are not worthy of saving when God wants to save everyone?
God is so real and tangible and we are killing Him. We do Him such a disservice. We tell people how much we hate them and about all of His rules. We use our Bibles as weapons. We use our Bibles to justify our hatred. For God’s sake, be Jesus. BE HIM. Melissa Presser, Work for the Cause, Not the Applause
We know the Pharisees were the enemies of Jesus. We know Jesus called out the Pharisees. Did he call them out to shame them and embarrass them? Did he call them out to convince others to hate them? Did he call them out with hatred and anger in his heart? Did he tell any of his followers to hate them or cast them aside? Or did he call them out with love in the gracious hope their hearts would be transformed?
In fact, Jesus formed individual relationships with Pharisees. He had dinner with Simon where he taught humility, acceptance and love. (Luke 7:36-50)
He met with Nicodemus, a Pharisee and member of the Sanhedrin. Nicodemus suspected Jesus was the true Messiah, was drawn to him and wanted to learn more. (John 3:1-6)
At this time, Israel’s Roman occupiers have given a small group of Sadducees and Pharisees limited powers to rule, and Nicodemus is one of the Pharisees. He holds a seat on the ruling council known as the Sanhedrin, and surprisingly Nicodemus is among those who seek Jesus for His teaching. It appears that he believes more about Jesus than he wants others to know, so he comes at night. (The Voice, John 3:2 note)
While Jesus may or may not have met personally with Joseph of Arimathea, all four gospel writers record Joseph’s attachment to Jesus. Joseph, like Nicodemus, was a member of the Sanhedrin. Joseph disagreed with the vote to cast Jesus as a blasphemer. He became a follower of Jesus who used his own money to claim Jesus’ body and bury him in his own tomb. (Matthew 27:57, Mark 15:43, Luke 23:50-52, John 19:38)
Let’s not forget Saul of Tarsus with whom Jesus formed the most famous of relationships. Saul was a passionate hater of Christ followers. He approved of the murder of Stephen, the first martyr of the faith. He sought and received permission from the High Priest of the Sanhedrin to hunt down and arrest those who followed Jesus. On his way to Damascus to do just that, the resurrected Jesus surrounded him in blinding light. Jesus changed Saul’s heart and mind, and he turned his passion to preaching the gospel of Christ’s love instead of hate. (Acts 9:1-20)
Eventually, Saul’s name was changed to Paul. This apostle brought many to Christ’s love throughout the Eastern world, and wrote thirteen books of the New Testament. But initially, Saul was not accepted by the original apostles. They knew of his past and knew him only as a persecutor. They did not trust him and wanted nothing to do with him. They did not believe he had been transformed by Jesus himself. But another follower – Barnabas – whom the apostles called “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36), spoke up for Saul.
Through love, Barnabas affirmed Saul’s new heart. Through love, Barnabas gave Saul a second chance. Through love, Barnabas ensured Saul was welcomed. Through love, Barnabas assured the apostles did not act as a stumbling blocks to the saving of Saul.
Even though Matthew was not a Pharisee, he was a tax collector, hated and vilified by his neighbors. They considered him an enemy. He was unwelcome in the temple and at the table. Prayer and food. Human staples. Until the love of Jesus came along.
To be like Jesus, we must not be stumbling blocks to the saving of others, whether you like them or not.
Jesus linked anger to murder.
You’re familiar with the command to the ancients, “Do not murder.” I’m telling you that anyone who is so much as angry with a brother or sister is guilty of murder. Carelessly call a brother ‘idiot!’ and you just might find yourself hauled into court. Thoughtlessly yell ‘stupid!’ at a sister and you are on the brink of hellfire. The simple moral fact is that words kill. (The Message, Matthew 5:21-22)
What have you called people or groups of people? Evil? Idiot? Stupid? Think this only applies to believers?
If we are all God’s creation, then He is our Father. All of us. And we are ALL brothers and sisters.
Like it or not.