What’s wrong with you?

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In her amazing devotional for Lent,  40 Days of Decrease, Alicia Britt Chole reflects on the who stood around Jesus’ cross hurling insults at Him. Mark gives us this glimpse …  “Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!” In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself!” (Mark 15:29-31, NIV)  Ignorant of what was actually happening in those moments, they accused Jesus of being a fraud. We know that He hung there in agony, bearing our sins! What wonder. What grace. What love. They only saw a Man condemned.

Before we rush on from that thought, let me borrow Ms. Chole’s thought and ask about your reaction to those who are suffering around you, to those who lives are marred and scarred, to the bruised and the broken. Are you only a critic? Do you shake your head and blame them for their lack of discipline, their failure to choose wisely? Does any reaction of compassion get overtaken with the need to distance yourself by assigning blame for their misery?  Jesus taught that how we treat others is an extension of our love for Him. Yes, He said, that cup of cold water offered to the least and the unlovely is a cup offered to His lips.

Perhaps I write today only for myself, but I find myself fatigued by the human need around me. The quickest way to avoid a response is to make those in need into ‘not me.’  If I see them as children of God, as my brother, my sister, then I must love.  But, if I can somehow make them different, if I can blame them for their state, I can become a modern Pharisee gathering my robes tightly and thanking God that “I am not like these sinners.”  And, if I choose that route, I miss out on opportunity to love – them, Him!

Throwing grenades is a lot easier than engaging in thoughtful conversation. A grenade can be launched from the safety of a place behind the lines.  A sneering ‘what’s wrong with you?’ is a reaction so much simpler than a conversation that asks “how can I help?”

“But, Jerry, there are consequences for our actions.  We do reap the harvest of the seeds we sow.” True that, dear friend, but are we in the place of God, to judge, to condemn, to consign others to worthlessness, discards along the road of life?  That is not what I see Jesus doing in the Gospels. He loved, always hoping for redemption. His love gave hope that led to change.

When a woman who was having an adulterous affair was dragged in front of Jesus for judgment, He did not point out her moral failings, though they were obvious to all. There were no scathing words about her shamelessness, or her failure to understand the consequences of her choices, or her lack of character.  Instead, He offered her dignity. And, then He did say, “Now, go and sin no more.”

His worst critics lobbed grenades while He suffered. Isaiah had foretold that day. “He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried— our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures.” (Isaiah 53:3-4, The Message)

Paul instructs us to engage ourselves ‘the ministry of reconciliation.’  How? Secure your heart in the love of Jesus, the grace He gives us that takes away our fear, the assurance that we have every resource we need to serve Him.

May this word from the Word challenge us to love Him, by loving those with whom we live. “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’” (Matthew 25:37-40, NIV)

____________________

This Is Amazing Grace

Who breaks the power of sin and darkness?
Whose love is mighty and so much stronger?\
The King of Glory, the King above all kings.

Who shakes the whole earth with holy thunder?
Who leaves us breathless in awe and wonder?
The King of Glory, the King above all kings.

This is amazing grace.
This is unfailing love.
That You would take my place,
That You would bear my cross.
You laid down Your life,
That I would be set free.
Oh Jesus, I sing for all that You’ve done for me.

Who brings our chaos back into order?
Who makes the orphan a son and daughter?
The King of Glory, the King of Glory.

Who rules the nations with truth and justice,
Shines like the sun in all of its brilliance?
The King of Glory, the King above all kings.

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain.
Worthy is the King who conquered the grave.
Worthy, worthy, worthy.

Jeremy Riddle | Josh Farro | Phil Wickham © 2012 Phil Wickham Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.) Seems Like Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.)

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