John 20:19 NASB “Now when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were together due to fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst, and said to them, “Peace be to you.”
I am getting on in years and my mind doesn’t work like it used to. I used to be able to clearly focus and zero in on whatever Biblical or current cultural topic I was looking at, but I find now that I can become distracted or even somewhat overwhelmed, when the numerous variables and their intricacies that surround the topic I am looking at, start to appear and I become acutely aware of the advancing limitations of my own mind. The razor sharpness has been replaced with a smoother edge.
And coupled with this mental limitation realization is the comprehension that the black and white contrast that I used to so easily discern, is not as black and white as it used to be. What used to be so simple and straight forward just doesn’t appear as that straight forward anymore. And the primary reason for this diminishment of clarity in contrast, is that life experience and God’s Word have changed my perception and the words that come out of my mouth and the reactions that I feel and the judgements that I make, now appear to be sifted, with a more Biblically based picture of myself. In other words, the warts that I did not always previously see in myself, I am now more clearly seeing.
We’re all familiar with the teaching that Jesus gave us about removing the log from our own eye before we go about removing twigs from other peoples eyes. And of course, it’s not a teaching that advocates not making judgements, but rather a teaching that advocates making judgements without being hypocritical or for lack of better words, don’t accuse others of what you yourself are still guilty of.
I see a lot of anger, contempt and self righteousness being voiced by some in Christian circles these days, where the “they” they speak about, are portrayed as being wicked, demented and liars etc. And of course, there are undoubtedly some individuals who exhibit these characteristics. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of individuals who seek to mislead us and enslave us to their way of thinking. But I have also learned, along the way, to differentiate between a particular group, ideology or concept and the individual, because Jesus showed us that He did this Himself, the Pharisees being a case in point.
Jesus had some pretty accusatory things to say about the Pharisees as a collective group but He also accepted invitations to their homes and spoke to them individually on occasions, Nicodemus and Simon, a Pharisee, where Jesus accepted an invitation to share a meal in his home, being cases in point (Luke 7:36). I’m curious why it is that we forget that.
There is a distinct difference between agreeing with someone who advocates that we disagree with a Biblical principle that we do agree with, and just talking to that individual as one human being to another. All of us should be mindful that but for the grace of God in our lives, where we have come to accept Jesus as the Messiah and our Lord and saviour, we are no different than any other sinner. One does not have to break each and every one of the Ten Commandments to be a sinner, just breaking one will do it, which is really the whole point, isn’t it? There is no righteous person, not even one (Romans 3:10). I’m thinking that is pretty well all inclusive.
If Jesus, who was dead set against all that the Pharisees represented, could take the time to speak to them individually and actually go into their homes, who the heck do we think we are, when we slam the door in anyone’s face if they reach out to us? Are we better than our Master?
And yes, I know the verses where the Bible says that light has no fellowship with darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14) and a whole slue of other Biblical admonishments that advocate our separation from their thinking, but these verses are talking about becoming like them. Did Jesus become like the Pharisees when He spoke with them and went to their homes? Of course He didn’t.
I find it interesting that when Jesus reappeared to His disciples, He greeted them with His peace. And Jesus explained His peace to them before He went away.
John 14:27 NASB “Peace I leave you, My peace I give you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, nor fearful.”
Not as the world gives. And how does the world give? Do we honestly ask ourselves that question?
How about you and I can have peace when you agree with what I want. Is that how the world makes demands for peace? Or better yet, is that how we think?
Jesus is our peace. He has already conquered the world. There is nothing to fear, which includes entering into dialogue with those who oppose us, if they ask that of us and are willing to do so.
If Jesus, who always followed the will of the Father, entered into dialogue with those that would ask Him, who are we not to do likewise? And we would enter into that dialogue after much prayer, asking God to guide us and sustain us in the power of the Holy Spirit, that His will might be accomplished. And when entering into that dialogue, we would be mindful of what we used to believe and who we used to be. Attitude sets the tone and tone (how we say what we say) can change everything.
I am convinced that often times we hinder what God would have us do, by closing doors that He has not closed and allowing our will to over ride His. We are the clay, He is the potter and far too often, we forget that.
Worthy is the Lamb. Blessings!