They still happen today. Barbaric, inhumane, and bloody. Stones of death are hurled by hands of hatred and hearts of vengeance, until the victim is a deformed mass of flesh, barely resembling its former self.
I don’t know how any person could stand and watch such violence and not be deeply grieved..even haunted by the blatant disregard for the sanctity of life.
I think it’s safe to say, 99% of the people on this planet would agree this is absolutely worthy of a protest. Resonating deep inside our moral compass, we know this brutal act is way off “True North.” There must be a better way. No, let me rephrase that: There IS a better way.
The other day I witnessed a different kind of stoning. One just as bloody and hateful, as people violently pitched stones of accusation, insults, judgement, lies, half-truths (and even full-truths), at one another in an attempt to “be right.” And most of these people were Christians. The Church. Only at the end of it all, the only thing left was a deformed mass of church, barely resembling her former self.
Pain was flung at pain. Sin compounded by more sin. Darkness swirling around in a tumultuous storm of human words and hearts bleeding out. And many were happy and contented about it. But God was certainly not glorified, and nobody could tell we were Christians by our love.
I wept. And I am going to be bold enough to say, I believe Jesus wept, too.
As I sat in prayer before Jesus, I wept even more as He gently convicted my heart of the times, in the not so distant past, when I cast my own stones of judgement and divisiveness.
Jesus, help me. Help us all. There must be a better way. No, let scripture rephrase that: There IS a better way. And it is found in the Gospel of Matthew:
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” (The Message Bible)
Read that scripture again. Let it sink in. And if you are brave enough, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal a picture of your own heart. It ain’t pretty, but it’s the only way to healing.
I am not saying Jesus wants us to sit down and never stand up for what we believe is right, but He certainly teaches us that the way to do this must be in a manner that will bring life. Perpetuate love. Further the cause of Christianity and His Church.
Being “right” does not give us a free pass to start hurling rocks at whomever or whatever we think is “wrong.” As a Christian, Jesus calls us to a higher level of life that goes beyond being right: He calls us to be righteous.
When He calls us to pray for our enemies, or those who have wronged us, even those who have spitefully abused us, He is inviting us to see that situation as HE sees it…which is the only view that is perfect and holy. It’s the only view that is accurate enough to show us how to bring righteousness and light to those areas of sin and darkness around us.
No matter how “right” we are, if we cannot pray with a clean heart UNTIL we see that other person or side through the loving eyes of God…then we are not seeing clearly. We are still selfishly and pridefully only seeing our truth and our way, disregarding and devaluing any aspect of truth that is held by the other person or side.
That person you have spite toward? Guess what? God loves that person just as much as He loves you. He wants that person to find healing and wholeness just as much as He wants it for you. It is HIS WILL that His Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven for EVERY person. When we fling our judgement and hatred at each other, we are actually positioning ourselves contrary to His will.
No one wins in that battle.
Only pain begetting more pain, darkness drowning out light, and love overshadowed by hate.
Hearts are weighed down with sin, the cause of Christ is hindered, and the Church of God is diminished.
There IS a better way: Respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves.