So in the tradition of weird little memes that float around the interwebs and Facebook these days, I’ve noticed a new one come along on a few friends’ walls the past week or so.
It’s a picture of Jesus talking to people, and the conversation is listed as going as follows:
Jesus: “Ok, here’s an idea. You love them, like I loved you. Make sure you take care of them and don’t judge them.
Others: “But what if they’re gay or worship other Gods(sic)?”
Jesus: “Did I f***ing stutter?”
Now let me make one thing clear: I’m not interested, right now, in getting into a discussion about the rights, wrongs and otherwises about homosexuality and paganism. What I am interested, is talking about this attitude and more importantly, about emulating the love that Jesus had for people when he was alive.
When Jesus was on Earth, he spent time not with the ‘good’ people, but with the ‘scum of society.’
Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi’s house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that he eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?”
When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” ~ Mark 2:15-17
I have a question for the people who are posting this image up as an attack on Christians who disagree with their views on same-sex marriage.
How about we replace the middle line there?
Others: “But what if they’re murderers, rapists or abuse children?”
Right: Time for a disclaimer.
I am not making a statement that equates homosexuality and murder, or anything like that. I do not believe that, and this question is not asked with the intention of suggesting that perspective. My intention with that statement, is to point out that Jesus loved everyone – and declared that everyone should be loved.
There are three key commandments that Jesus gave us throughout his life.
Jesus Answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” ~ Mark 12:29-31
Finally, Jesus left Earth with the Great Commission.
And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. ~ Matthew 28:18-20
Jesus told us to go and make disciples, teaching them to follow all the commandments that he had given. He also told us to love God, and love our neighbor like ourselves – which brings me back to the image I was discussing initially.
Paraphrasing Jesus, the creator of the image has said that we are to love Jesus how he loved us; and that we shouldn’t judge them.
It’s interesting that the first story that comes to mind when I think about all of this, is the Pharisees bringing a woman caught in adultery before Jesus. To tell the story briefly, they bring this woman before him, reminding Jesus that the law says she should be stoned to death for being caught in adultery (the law also said the bloke should be stoned, but apparently he escaped.)
Anyway, Jesus looks at them, and tells them that whoever’s without sin, go ahead, stone her and he bends down and starts writing on the ground. A few minutes later he gets up and they’re all gone. It’s just Jesus and the woman, and he asks her if anyone’s condemned her.
She said, “No one, Lord.”
And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” ~ John 8:11
Jesus didn’t judge the woman, but he did urge her not to sin. Jesus didn’t judge her, but neither did he tell her to go jump back into bed with whoever she was caught sleeping with. Jesus didn’t judge her, but he did guide her along the right path.
Let’s, then, bring the topic back to the murderers. What did Jesus tell us to do with them?
Even as I write this, it burns inside me. It’s so hard to be publicly saying that we should love these people, because I’m so passionately against their actions, and I am incapable of conceiving how anyone could possibly do those things.
As are – I would assume – most people.
Why? Because we know that it’s wrong. I would think there are very few people (if any, but you never know) reading this article who would disagree with me that any of those actions – along with many others – are wrong.
So here’s my point: A large percentage of the people reading this article, I would suggest, also believe that homosexuality and paganism are wrong.
And to take it even further: Many of those same people would also believe that telling a lie, speeding or dishonoring one’s parents is also wrong.
So if we’re going to love people like Jesus loved us, then what should we do?
To the liar: “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”
To the drug addict: “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”
To the homosexual: “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”
To the pagan: “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”
To the murderer: “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”
True love does not just let someone wander off and do their own thing uninhibited.
When my friend goes through a tough time, and tells me that they’ve done something wrong, do I just shrug at them and tell them to do whatever they want? No.
When a parent catches their toddler about to run out into the street, do they just watch, smiling, going, “Oh little Johnny’s become so independent so fast.” No.
Real love, the love that Jesus shared and told us to share doesn’t just let people walk in front of a bus, jump off a cliff without a parachute or do things that are harmful to ourselves and others. Real love is the love that does not judge, but guides to better actions, thoughts and morals.
And as good as sin may feel; or as harmless as it may seem, God guided us against it for a reason. We may not know that reason, and we may not agree with his rules all the time, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t obey them. God’s guidance comes out of an ultimate love for us that we can never understand from our human perspective.
We do, though, need to love one another with that same love – or as best as we can do.