“Jesus beholding him loved him”
The Bible has the amazing ability to help people who are walking with Jesus to walk a little closer to Him. I am sure most of my readers know what I am talking about. You are walking with Jesus but you are not completely satisfied. You certainly don’t blame the Lord. You need renewal. How does the Word of God function in this kind of a situation?
Second Timothy 3:16–17 tells us that the Bible has been given by divine inspiration. It is literally “God-breathed”—theopnuestos—“inspired.” That doesn’t mean that the Bible is inspiring—though it is. But the point of this scripture is that the Word of God is “profitable” because it is the very breath of God. In His goodness God has given us His Word and that Word is “profitable … for reproof, for correction. …” It helps us fine-tune our thinking and living.
God’s Word is profitable for those who are on-course, but perhaps drifting off-course, and need to make correction— which is a valid need for every Christian, even the most faithful and the most mature. In fact, the most faithful and mature would be the first to admit “I need to rethink this issue.”
Many Christians felt that 2020 was the worst year they can remember. Many are suffering from “election burnout,” which has left them feeling betrayed by candidates, misled by the media, and groaning from what they are sure was election fraud. But has all of the confusion and disappointment led us away from loving like Jesus loved? Has our zeal for righteousness led us far away from the example our Lord and Savior set for us?
This brings me to fundamental focus of this article: “Do I love the way Jesus loved?” “Do I need a course correction? “Has my animosity against radicals who are seeking to destroy everything I hold dear taken something from me that I must regain?”
In Mark 10:17–22 we read of the rich young ruler. He thought pretty highly of himself. He was not like the penitent publican who said “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Luke 18:13) and was commended by Jesus. The rich young ruler asked, “Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life>?” This man had a respectful attitude. He ran to Jesus and he kneeled before him. He also addressed Jesus respectfully with the words “Good Master.” Immediately, however, Jesus stopped the man in his tracks. “Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is God.” Cultists like to use this statement to teach that Jesus was denying His deity. Not at all. This man had not yet confessed Jesus as God, so Jesus was responding to him on his level of understanding. The man did not need a theology lesson. He needed a change in his priorities and he needed to be humbled. The ruler doesn’t have a clue. He asks, “What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” He thinks he is the master of his destiny. Just tell him what to do and he will do it. Then God will be in debt to him. God will owe him eternal life.
I want you to notice how Jesus handled the situation. He was painfully honest. In verse 21 we read: “One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.” Now this is not the way to be saved, but it is the way to be broken and humbled. Jesus was quite frank. He told the rich young ruler exactly what he needed to hear. However, let’s not neglect the motive that moved Jesus in this interchange. At the beginning of verse 21 we read, “Then Jesus beholding him loved him.”
A Course Adjustment for the Conservative Movement?
It is obvious that we are living in times of severe intellectual and moral upheaval. Simple, basic logic seems to be a solitary stranger in the land. As a matter of fact, the statement “two plus two always equals four” is being contested. James Lindsay, a mathematics professor from Portland State University got into a Twitter war with a radical over the question: “Does two plus two always equal four?” One individual statement said, “‘two plus two always equals four’ is not an objective fact, but a cultural notion resulting from Western imperialism and colonization.”
As Christians walking in the footsteps of Jesus, what are we to do with people like this? Are we to hate them? Ignore them? Start a conversation by warning them they are going to Hell?
Many Christians feel we are being pushed into a corner and losing the culture war. We are outraged because gay marriage is the law of the land. Abortion rights are considered healthcare. Prayer has been taken out of the schools. Some school districts are mandating that LGBTQ history is taught in elementary school. When we are motivated by fear and anger we become defensive. We clench our fists and get ready to fight. But it’s hard to show love and even experience genuine love when you are defensive. Real love has to go on the offensive—as God did when He sent His Son. Being a Christian and knowing that the absence of biblical morality is causing our nation to implode doesn’t give us the right to voice our Christian convictions with anger and venom in our voices. Fear and anger are not sustaining emotions for the Christian.
Let’s be realistic. We have no guarantee that if we love people the way Jesus loved people they will follow Jesus and commit to Him. But persistent and tenacious love provides the best chance we have. We Christians must ask ourselves: Have we become so closely aligned with a particular party that we are more interested in winning an election and winning an argument than in loving the way Jesus loved?
As I read emails, articles, and conservative materials, it seems that too many Christians are living in fear. They believe that the ship of faith is sinking. “Should I surrender?” “Should I build a bunker and hide?” “Is it all over?” Such fear puts us in a protective mode. Such fear paralyzes, divides, and plants seeds of suspicion that quickly grow. Love requires vulnerability, but fear puts us in a defensive mode. That’s exactly what happened to the Pharisees. They struggled to maintain their exalted status despite the Roman occupation. The more Jesus’ popularity grew, the more defensive they became. Jesus’ miracles and healings made them outraged. They were losing their authority.
What About Basic Christian Convictions
Loving the way Jesus loved doesn’t mean we cast Christian convictions to the wind and forget there is a right and there is a wrong. Pastor Choco De Jesus grew up in Humboldt Park, a Puerto Rican community in Chicago. On June 4, 1977, vicious gang warfare erupted between the Latin Kings and the Spanish Cobras. When the police arrived, they opened fire. At the time, the department was almost entirely white. Choco grew up in a bad environment, but was saved and came to pastor New Life Covenant Church. Under his leadership it grew to a membership of 17,000. He tells his story in the book Love Them Anyway: Finding Hope in a Divided World Gone Crazy (Charisma). He asks, “If you say you follow Jesus but are not loving like Him, then what’s the point?”
Choco became very influential in the inner city. He had the opportunity to become alderman, but had a storm of opposition from the LGBTQ community. He invited their leaders to a meeting. For an hour, people asked questions. He was also bombarded with insults. Someone asked, “Would you be willing to change what’s on your church’s website about homosexuality?” The church’s website states that homosexuality isn’t God’s design for marriage and, in fact, it’s a sin. “No,” Choco said, “we aren’t going to change the website.” Another asked, “Well, then, are you willing to make a public statement that you accept the freedom for people to choose a homosexual lifestyle?” Choco answered, “Everybody knows I don’t accept the homosexual lifestyle, so it’s already public.”
At the end of the meeting, Choco told them plainly, without raising his voice (in the interviews I did with him he is very soft-spoken), “For thirty years, you have fought for tolerance. You’ve insisted that people accept your lifestyle as equally valid as traditional marriage, but tonight, you’ve been intolerant of me and my faith. You’ve called me a hypocrite, but tonight, you’ve been hypocritical” (pp. 127–131).
How Far Are You Willing To Be Stretched?
For those of us who have daughters, here is a challenging question, though the same principles are relevant for those who have sons. What do you do if your sixteen-year-old daughter gets pregnant out wedlock? Multiple choice:
- Beat up your daughter and lock her in a room for a month
- Shoot her boyfriend
- Blame your wife
- Love your daughter, keep channels of communication open, and seek a godly home for the baby soon to be born.
We must stand for righteousness as Jesus did. Never forget that. But we must love them anyway.