Our pastor spoke about Jesus’ anger at the Pharisees in church on Sunday, and while he was talking I thought back over what I knew of Scripture, and I couldn’t think of an example of Jesus ever being angry at anyone but the religious elite of his day. He did express occasional frustration at the thickheadedness of his own disciples as well. However, he seemed to reserve his hot anger for those that claimed to have religious authority over people and then abused that power. He flipped tables in the temple, got angry over their “test” of him healing the man with a withered hand, and called them a brood of vipers.
Interestingly enough that’s not how Christ responded to those that would be considered in “obvious” sin. We only ever see him breaking down the social, religious, economic, and racial barriers to get to people in need of his presence. He sat with a Samaritan women that was living with a man and had a discussion with her. The three major things we know about her would have disqualified her from being dealt with by the religious people of his day. The Jews hated the Samaritans based on the fact that they considered them mixed race. In fact they would go miles out of their way when traveling to avoid the region. Men at this time didn’t really mix with women either, so her gender put her at a disadvantage socially. Lastly, she was outright breaking the Old Testament Law, so much so that even the women of her own village avoided her. Yet, we see Christ go out of his way to speak with her, to show her compassion, to listen to her story, and then to offer her the living water.
He actively stepped in to stop the abuse (slaughter) of another women caught breaking the law. He told them that whoever was without sin should throw the first stone, and then as the only one with the right to do so, he laid that right down and told her that he didn’t condemn her. Yes, he told her to go and sin no more, but only after an act of rescuing compassion.
He healed lepers which were considered cursed by God. He cast out demons. I can’t think of anyone more controlled by Satan than if they are possessed, and yet he didn’t look on them with disdain. The Bible says repeatedly that when he saw the multitudes he was moved with compassion. Are we really moved with compassion? Do we as Christians set aside our own rights in an effort to reach out and connect with others? Or, are we to busy fighting a “culture war”.
I’m so tired of hearing from believers that they have the right to say what they think. That they can call sin, sin! That the liberal media is out to get us all, and so we need to fight back and protect our rights. When did Jesus ever fight back against the Roman sin culture? He didn’t. He laid down his rights, he humbled himself and took on the form of a servant just to save people that weren’t part of the “moral” group (and those that were if they would listen). I think that if Christians actually started acting like Christ and looking at what he did as a model for their behavior instead of looking to political pundits for what they should be angry about, the church would be a lot more effective.
What are you doing to break down barriers and reach people? (I have to ask myself all of these as well.) Do you hold on to your legal rights, or do you let offenses slide in an effort to be a more effective witness? Have you gotten truly angry at actual sin in the body of Christ and then worked to change the circumstances where it could happen. Or do you say things like, ‘it was an isolated incident?” Do you lump large groups of people together based on one identifying factor and then label them the enemy? Or, do you see the multitude and look upon them with compassion? We don’t have to ask “What would Jesus do?” because we know what he DID! Now we need to go do likewise.