Dear Church family,
As many of you know, we have had the privilege to host Mike McHargue this past week (note: his last event is tonight at 6:30pm in the Fellowship Hall) and, speaking for myself, I have learned a great deal from him.
One thing he talked about on Wednesday night was how Jesus responded to people he disagreed with. Mike said he wanted to know more about that so he scoured the gospels, asking: When did Jesus become angry and even rude? When did he show patience and compassion?
What Mike found was that Jesus got the most angry when he saw that people were keeping other people from God. He turned over tables in the Temple because people had made it a shopping mall instead of letting people worship. He snarled at religious leaders who only cared about their own outer appearance and not about deepening faithfulness.
These people, with whom Jesus completely disagreed, earned his temper and his disdain.
But Jesus had others he met for whom he only showed compassion. In John’s gospel, for example, we meet two such people back to back in chapters 3 and 4. First, Jesus meets a religious leader who will only meet with Jesus if he can slink out at night to do so for he is nervous and ashamed. He had a lot of questions and he didn’t agree with Jesus on certain things but Jesus talked with him and even shared with him one of the promises that we still hold most dear. He said to him, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…” That is how he treated the religious leader.
Then, in chapter 4 Jesus happens upon a woman at a well. This woman is even less like Jesus. She is female. She has had six husbands. She is a different ethnic group than Jesus and she follows a different religion. And Jesus sits with her and talks with her. He takes her seriously and he shares his beliefs with her. The interaction so affects her that she runs to her neighbors and tells them “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! Can he be the Messiah?”
These people, with whom Jesus completely disagreed, earned his respect and his compassion.
Mike shared this with us and then offered up that we should consider doing the same. For we are living in a contentious and fractured time. And there are some things that deserve our temper. If we interact with someone who is intentionally malicious or seeking to hurt and destroy others, then temper is appropriate. But if we are interacting with someone who is earnest and seeking to do God’s will and just doesn’t agree with us, then respect is what is best.
This teaching was powerful for me this week and it provided a helpful paradigm for how to live faithfully in a world of differences. I pray that it is helpful for you as well.