Category Archives: Bible Teaching
Zebras scatter and flee, leaving the weakest and most vulnerable as lions’ prey. Elephants group together and defend the entire herd. We are too often zebras rather than elephants.
An accusation is made against clergy, politician, professor, author, journalist, coach, coworker, or colleague. Perhaps it is legitimate. Perhaps it was invented by a malcontent. Perhaps it was innocent. Perhaps not. We don’t know. We don’t care.
We flee and leave the accused to the lions, lest somehow we be negatively impacted. We hear one side of the story. We never talk to the accused. Rumors are repeated until they enter the public consciousness as fact. If such accusations and innuendoes have been covered up in the past, all the more reason to jump to the opposite extreme. Guilty without evidence. Guilty without proof. Guilty without even the opportunity to defend oneself.
False gods demand blood sacrifices. Person after person is sacrificed on the altar of accusation to preserve what really matters – the institution. Careers, families, and lives are destroyed. The roaring lions are satiated for only a very short time.
What if, instead, we acted like elephants and supported one another?
What if we carefully and fully investigated, heard all sides, and brought the parties together with the goal of reconciliation whenever possible?
What if justice were tempered with mercy and wrongs righted with forgiveness?
What if the innocents were exonerated and the guilty restored?
Wouldn’t that look a lot more like the Kingdom of God?
Ask the average Christian today why Jesus had to die on the cross and he will likely say something to the effect of “to pay for our sins.”
Had you asked the same question to any Christian during the first four centuries of Christianity, they would have replied, “to destroy the works of the devil.”
Both answers are biblical and correct, but the first is too narrow. It doesn’t go far enough. Yes, we are all sinners. True, our sins separate us from God. And, yes, Jesus paid for our sins on the cross so that now we can be completely forgiven and adopted into God’s forever family. Hallelujah! Thank you, Jesus!
But Jesus did more than that on the cross. He destroyed the works of evil. (1 John 3:8 ESV: The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.)
No one knew it at the time, but on Good Friday, everything changed. Jesus absorbed into his sinless being all the evil in the universe. All that is wrong, hurtful, evil, unjust – all of the chaos in the cosmos – imploded. The forces of darkness are utterly defeated. As a result, God has begun God’s reign on the earth now. We as individuals get to participate in that reign as new creations. We are collectively invited to join God as God makes all things new.
We join God as Jesus makes all things new by doing what Jesus said to do. We participate in the Kingdom of God by conforming our lives to the Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 5-7)
We can’t do it alone. We need each other. We need the strength and guidance of others. Together, we seek to live with Jesus, learning from Jesus, how to be like Jesus. Together, we hold up a mirror to power and defend the poor, weak, displaced, marginalized, disenfranchised, and victimized.
Ask the average Christian today what it means to follow Jesus, and they will likely give you a theological answer about atonement and immortality.
Ask the average non-Christian today what it means to follow Jesus, and almost invariably they will respond, “Love your enemies.”
Why is it that many non-Christians get it and many church-goers do not?