Friday, March 31, 2006

Loving the wrong people


“The purpose of our life is God’s glory.
However lowly a life is,
that is what makes it great.”
–Oscar Romero
(The Violence of Love, September 3, 1978)

There is great danger in valuing people differently than God does. We make claims that God loves all people and we are told in scripture that “God shows no favoritism” (Romans 2.11), but do we believe it? There are those who say that serving someone who isn’t going to heaven when they die is a worthless deed or are at least hesitant to say that it is worth the time. There were people in Jesus’ time who believed something along these lines and Jesus’ response to them was, “tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do” (Matthew 21.31). If we ever begin to distinguish who is worthy of help and who is not we will surely be neglecting the wrong people. For any neglect is wrong. If we turn our backs because someone lives or believes differently than we do then what distinguishes us from the Pharisees? Jesus’ call was to love and bless all the wrong kinds of people. Jesus got killed because He loved the wrong kinds of people; the tax collectors, the prostitutes, the lepers, the poor, the outcast. Jesus loved and hung out with a bunch of people who you might say were ‘going to hell in a hand basket’ (whatever a hand basket is…). Jesus wasn’t about getting people into heaven when they die. Jesus was all about the Kingdom of God; the bringing of heaven to Earth. To Jesus service was of cosmic importance, even eternal importance. Christianity, therefore, is all about loving the wrong kinds of people, the people who are going to hell in a hand basket. It is all about valuing the people who we are inclined to devalue because whoever that may be, God thinks the world of them.

5 comments:

Ashley said...

Alison and I were just talking abou this earlier today, thank you for this amazing post!

Dan McGowan said...

Jesus did love people - the wrong kind of people - as you state. However, there is a distinction between loving all people - and accepting the sinful behaviors of all people without ever calling it into question - which Jesus also did. He loved completely, for example, the woman at the well. But never, not even for a moment, did he APPROVE of her sin. In fact, he told her to "sin no more." Yes, we are to LOVE all people - but never confuse that love for some sort of blind "total acceptance of all behavior." Jesus did not do that. And I thank God He didn't.

WES ELLIS said...

Dan, I agree with you. I agree with dealing with sin. Sometimes we deal with sin in the wrong ways or with the wrong intentions but the implementation of what Jesus did on the cross must solve the sin problem, at least at some level. Challenging sin is important.

What we're talking about here goes a little deeper. If we are loving people as a means to convert them to christianity then we'll always size people up. Ultimately if I knew someone was never going to become a Christian I'd never help them, I'd see it as a waste of time. But if we see the gospel as something more than counting conversions, if we transcend our own agendas then the gospel becomes good news for all people. the gospel should be a blessing no matter what someone's eternal destination is. Service then is not a means to an end but it is the heart of the gospel.

KJKEB said...

"What we're talking about here goes a little deeper. If we are loving people as a means to convert them to christianity then we'll always size people up. Ultimately if I knew someone was never going to become a Christian I'd never help them, I'd see it as a waste of time. But if we see the gospel as something more than counting conversions, if we transcend our own agendas then the gospel becomes good news for all people."
===========================
Maybe this is why Jesus used the parable of sowing the seeds. He calls us to sow seeds. He also calls himself the Lord of the harvest. In Matthew 9:38 it says, "Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into HIS harvest." (emphasis mine).

I am never called to successfully win souls. I am only called to obedience and to minister to them.

Paul planted...
Apollos watered...
God gave the increase.

Or am I missing your point?

~Kevin

WES ELLIS said...

good stuff Kevin. what you said goes along with my point which was really that we don't always have to worry about changing the way people think... that's just part of the power of the gospel. The gospel is also about feeding hungry people, even if they never are going to become Christians.

Great thoughts,
Wes