Have you ever lived in a time when there is so much noise? It is almost overbearing. People arguing and shaking their fists (literally or metaphorically). Everything seems to be measured by extremes. In areas of politics, religion, race, medicine, and public opinion there seems to be this great divide with one side shouting at the other and no one hearing anything over their own voices crying out.
Maybe I’m being dramatic, but it is what things feel like to me.
We find ourselves amid all this, but what is our purpose? What is our responsibility?
Jesus breaks this down for us in Mark 12:29-31:
- Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.
- Love your neighbor as yourself.
Why are we to do these things? Ultimately so that we can live lives that honor and glorify God and so we can witness to those who are not saved. I know this is an oversimplification, but I believe these two things are the primary reasons that we are here.
Jesus also says in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commands.” This includes the following command from Luke 6:27-31:
27 “But I say to you who listen: Love your enemies, do what is good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If anyone hits you on the cheek, offer the other also. And if anyone takes away your coat, don’t hold back your shirt either. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and from one who takes your things, don’t ask for them back. 31 Just as you want others to do for you, do the same for them.
There is really no room in these verses for confrontations with those whose opinions are different than ours.
I’m not saying we are never to take a stand for what is right. But I am reminded of how Jesus confronted prostitutes and tax collectors and Pilot and Herod and other unrepentant sinners. It was always with dignity and humility. The only ones that Jesus ever seemed to treat with any open contempt were those who knew the teachings of God and yet rejected him as Messiah.
So what about those times when we feel that other Christians, maybe even Christian leaders, need to be confronted or held accountable? In 1 Corinthians 6 Paul is upset with the Corinthian church because some Christians are taking other Christians to court to have disputes judged. Paul is shocked by this behavior because this is happening in view of unbelievers. In verse 7 of this chapter Paul offers, “why not rather put up with injustice? Why not rather be cheated,” rather than dispute a believer in court in view of unbelievers.
Our lives are to glorify Christ. Our love for others should surpass everything except our love for God. Even our enemies should have our prayerful concern.
In Esther 4:14, Mordecai tells Esther that maybe she is in the position she is, “for such a time as this.” Maybe we are too? In this age of noise and extremes we are called to be salt and light. As Paul says in Philippians 2:4–8:
4 Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Make your own attitude that of Christ Jesus, 6 who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. 7 Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, 8 He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross.
Are we willing to humble ourselves in obedience? Our attitude should be the attitude of Christ, willing to set aside His own rights, His own glory, His own power all for the sake of others. All for us.
If Christ can empty Himself for our good, can we empty ourselves of our own need to be heard? Can we shed our righteous indignation, even if it is warranted, to pray for our enemies and those who use us? Can we live a life of such humble obedience to our Lord that our witness of Him proves we serve someone greater than ourselves?
Jesus tells us in John 12:47-48, “If anyone hears My words and doesn’t keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects Me and doesn’t accept My sayings has this as his judge: The word I have spoken will judge him on the last day.”
If Jesus did not judge those who rejected Him, who are we to do so? We are not called to judge unbelievers, we are called to witness of Christ’s love for them. This combines the greatest two commandments because only when we love the Lord with all our heart and our neighbor as ourselves can we share the good news of the God we serve with those who do not know Him.