Who are the wicked? Who are the lost? I’ve been mulling over this question for a couple of weeks. Pondering Jesus’ behavior so I can better walk in those shoes of His.
But then I started thinking about Him rebuking the Pharisees (John 8:37-54). I know a handful of people who carry a pretty heavy Pharisaical spirit.
Would Jesus rebuke them?
I see them feeling proud of their own righteousness and judging others whose choices would make you wince. So what separates these modern day Pharisees from the ones of Jesus’ day?
Is pride the difference? The Pharisees of ancient Jerusalem came across as arrogant, self-seeking and jealous. They knew the law and claimed Abraham as their father but Jesus said their father was the devil
(John 8:37-39,44). Wow! Pretty bold.
He also said in John 8:37 that His words found no place in them. That’s the key. What makes a place for Jesus’ words in us?
Hunger perhaps? Hunger to be connected to something or Someone who sees us with all our baggage and grins regardless? Who actually embraces us in our filth. And then takes all that filth onto Himself so we can sparkle?
The tragedy is that many of us don’t know or can’t accept that we sparkle.
I believe if we could see through the eyes of God, we’d get an upgrade in how we view ourselves. Because we would see ourselves clothed in pure, sparkling attire. And here is where we’d get the upgrade——-if we peered closer we’d see a little demon whispering lies as we look in the mirror. Polluting and twisting reality so we view ourselves through a tainted lens, and see reflected there, torn and tattered garments covering a dejected, miserable figure.
Lies make us miserable and the truth——-should we choose to believe it——-will send us soaring.
Jesus loved sinners and hung out with them frequently. In fact, so frequently He acquired a reputation as a glutton and a drunkard (Matt. 11:19). Do we in the church really get how Jesus interacted with and loved people? If we did, I think the church would look different.
Sometimes we shy away from the very people who need what we carry, for fear of tarnishing our reputation. Really? Jesus didn’t seem too concerned about how people labeled Him.
Jesus was called a partier because that’s who he hung out with. And it sullied His reputation. He didn’t care about that, He cared about people. And He went to the hungry ones, the needy ones (Mark 2:17).
So how is it that these people flocked to Jesus? That these partiers accepted Him as one of their own? Obviously, He didn’t walk in solemnly holding a holy scroll. These guys would have shown him the door before he could have rolled it out. Jesus was branded a partier because he was connected to them. Loved them. Laughed out loud at their stories, probably with his head back, mouth open and tears running into His beard. He ate with them and drank with them.
He didn’t get drunk, but He probably wrapped His arm around the waist of a staggering fellow and helped him back home. Why? Because the guy needed a friend. A listening ear. A Savior who would heal all the wounds that drove him to drink too much.
Jesus didn’t judge their sins because He knew He was going to die for them. He knew He was bringing in a New Covenant. He would take the punishment and we would reap the benefit.
What would the church look like if we really loved?
Not put on the practiced smile while inwardly criticizing the pastor’s sermon. Not silently judging the family that walked in late, because we know about his drinking problem or her affair that they are trying to recover from. Or the wife who bravely comes alone while we tsk tsk about her teenage son who is rebellious and promiscuous. Not that we think we’re “tsk tsking.” We just don’t have love.
How does that make us different from the Pharisees?
Do our hearts break for another’s situation or are we secretly proud (and relieved) that we aren’t in their shoes…until one day we are. Do we keep our distance as if their difficulties are contagious? Pull back because we don’t want our kids or our husbands around them in case it rubs off?
Jesus summed up the commandments in one sentence: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27)
He didn’t say, “Do for your God…or sacrifice for your God…or evangelize for your God.” Why? Because all those worthy things will only be effective and have lasting value if they come out of a deep and intimate relationship with Him.
Him as a Person. Not by just reading the Bible and calling it good. As Graham Cooke puts it, “The Bible isn’t the fourth member of the Trinty.”
And you can’t love your neighbor UNTIL you learn to love YOURSELF. And truly loving yourself won’t happen until you experience how loved you are by the One who made you.
And that changes everything.
Tell Me How You Feel
How well do you love yourself?