I actually wanted the title of this post to be “How the gospel applies to that person you want to call every name in the book but don’t because Jesus loves them although you can’t for the life of you figure out why…” but that’s a little too long.
We all have those people in our lives. Chances are their names and faces came to mind as you read the first sentence of this post. Our reasons for cringing when they’re near range from personal hygiene to political opinions, from awkwardness to annoyances and from a lack of personal space to a lack of tact. What they do is not wrong, per se; it is simply fingernails on the chalkboard of our patience. They have a face only their Creator could love, and I imagine the Creator-creation relationship to be akin to that between an elementary school student and their first kilned clay “masterpiece” that would’ve been deemed an ashtray if it was the 70’s. When they wrong us in the slightest way by doing something like actually showing up to an event we hoped they would avoid, “stealing” our babysitter by planning ahead better than we did, or poking us on Facebook, we begin to bully them spiritually.
If you’re not familiar with that terminology, spiritual bullying sounds something like this:
Sweet Baby Jesus, I know You are all powerful, so would You please use some of that power to shut. her. mouth?! Laryngitis is not life-threatening and I believe she would glorify You in her silence. You know she speaks out of arrogance and Your word says that You humble the proud, so could You go ahead and get on that? Now!
And while they likely are neither widowed, orphaned nor poor, you still (with all the condescension and “ministry”-mindedness you can muster) categorize them as “the least of these”. Or maybe that’s just me…
In the controversial movie The Last Temptation of Christ, writers assumed Christ’s greatest temptation was sexual. It is my strongly opinionated belief that the REAL temptation of Jesus was knowing He could zap people and change them into suicidal pigs but not actually doing it. (He did it to demons. The closest He came with people was thrashing a whip around and tossing some tables.) I envision it this way:
Religious leaders: Jesus, you healed on the Sabbath… again. That goes against the Law.
Jesus: *facepalm* True or false? If your oxen fell in a ditch today, you’d get it out?
Religious leaders: That’s different.
Jesus: I agree. People are more important.
Religious leaders: But the Law God gave to Moses sa–
*Oink, squeal, oiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnk*
Jesus: (muttering under His breath) Idiots. I know what it says; I wrote it.
Fortunately for all of us, Jesus was more of a “Father, forgive them. They don’t know what the heck they’re doing” kind of guy. In fact, before His crucifixion and resurrection, we were God’s enemies. One of the coolest things about Jesus (besides walking on water, which is by far my favorite picture of Him) is that He practiced what He preached. During the sermon on the mount, He told everybody there to love their enemies.
Love your enemies. We are commanded to love *that* person. Instead, we rationalize. But he’s a terrorist, she’s a slut, they’re *insert political party affiliation here*, their kid bullied my kid, she lied, … It doesn’t matter. Jesus modeled for us what it looks like to love our enemies. We were His enemies, but He died in our place to mend the relationship.
We yelled, “Crucify Him!” He prayed, “Father, not my will but Yours.”
We judged Him unfairly. He said, “Let the one without sin throw the first stone.”
We deny Him, ignore Him and betray Him. He promises never to leave or forsake us.
We are *that* person. He loves us well.