In today’s Westernised society Jesus would be considered intolerant, unloving and a threat to community cohesion. There would be those today who would class him with some type of phobia because of His views. Look at some of His teaching as recorded in the gospels.
Jesus gave the act of adultery a very narrow dimension. To look on someone with lustful purposes will receive a judicial sentence. Also Christ’s view on marriage as between a man and a woman is downright disturbing to same-sex relationship advocates. What hackles must arise when people hear His words quoted about the ‘Broad and Narrow ways and how one equals destruction while the other leads to life. Especially when Jesus declared He is ‘the Way the Truth and the Life’ and without Him heaven is shut.
Child abuse is rampant as our papers sadly report, especially on those who should be protectors of children. Jesus is unmerciful in His condemnation of such people. It would be better for them to jump in the lake with a huge millstone around their neck than perpetrate such acts. What verdict awaits them before the great white throne on judgement day! Forgiveness is possible, but only if the fruits of repentance are evident.
As you read the Gospels it is clear Jesus is scathing of those who use His name, his service to make themselves rich, exploit the widow and orphans, corrupt the Word of God and lead people astray. His words are ‘I never knew you; go away from me, you evil doers.’ In Matthew 23 are words directed to the religious (fraudulent) leaders. Make no mistake, they are harsh words. ‘Hypocrites, blind leaders, fools, whitewashed tombs, snakes and vipers’ are His descriptions for such people. Then consider His upturning of trading tables of those in the temple precincts who were fleecing worshippers and selling blemished animals.
To look at such a list, and more could be added, would give the impression that Jesus was a narrow minded bigot, unloving and vindictive. Was He expressing His phobias by such condemnation? In reality the opposite is the truth. His words and actions were from a heart of love and compassion. He was warning such people then and now about an eternal tragedy which awaited unless they changed their ways. Love made Jesus act and speak. Silence would have been easier, safer for Him but deadly for those in such a lifestyle and ungodly activities. The bible is unwavering in stating that there is a judgement day already set and all must appear before it. There is but one avenue of being pardoned.
Jesus experienced peoples’ judgement, the nice and respectable peoples’ ungodliness as well as the rebellious and depraved. That is the message of the Cross! His request to the Father to “forgive them for they know not what they do” offered a new beginning. That requires a commitment of a person’s life to Jesus Christ as the risen Lord and Saviour. It requires a recognition of a life offensive to God and deep sorrow for it. It requires a new lifestyle based upon spiritual, moral and ethical values in harmony with the Holy Scriptures.
When that takes place a number of things happen. To highlight just two: One is a sense of joy under the smile of God. On the negative side you discover many in society and even amongst your family or friends your decision is threatening and unsettling. As you begin to live out and share your new faith and lifestyle you will be labelled as bigoted, racist, unloving and much more. That’s alright, you are in good company for that's how they consider Jesus. But if you seek to cover your faith and want to dabble in a previous lifestyle you are actually hating your accusers. Silence is more of a hate crime against them than sharing your faith. Sure, your words are to be flavoured by grace and your actions with mercy, but the ‘new you’ must begin to emerge. Jesus never authorised His followers to take punitive action against those who lived contrary to His laws. Instead He urged His people to pray for them and express compassion. A far cry from the ideology which kills infidels for a whole number of lifestyle choices.
In the Church’s early days to be called a follower of the Nazarene was considered as an insult, a derogatory term. Christians wore it as an emblem of honour. We are fast approaching a similar scenario. However, Jesus forewarned His disciples about the tough times ahead. His promise remains true for us today, “I am with you always” and “I have overcome the World” plus “I go to prepare a place for you.”
©Ray Hawkins July 2016.