Dear members and friends of Valley Park,
Last month’s VOICE article focused upon a Christian response to the present American division over politics. It informs a Christ-like response to those who are rulers of our country no matter whether or not we like them. The article is still on our web-site at valleyparkchurch.com.
My article concluded that we, as representatives of Jesus Christ in our time, are called to a gracious and Christ-like witness until He returns. I do sincerely hope and pray that all who are Christians in our presently divided culture will use our political climate to exemplify faith in God’s oversight of the affairs of man and sincerely love those whose opinions are different than our own.
Jesus Christ loved and still loves every human being in spite of what He knows to be the disposition of the human heart. In fact, He came into this world in order to offer his life for people incapable of living a life honoring to His Father. He describes the inclinations of the human heart in Matthew 15:18-20.
“But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man…” Matthew 15:18-20
Jesus understood the condition of the human heart so well that the Gospel of John records Jesus reluctance, if not refusal, to trust anyone.
“Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name, observing His signs which He was doing. But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men, and because He did not need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.” John 2:23-25
Considering what we know about the holiness and righteousness of Jesus, it would be easy to understand a choice on His part not to love us. And yet He loved us without reservation. Paul writes that He died for us even though we are unworthy of His love.
“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:6-8
The point is that we did not change, nor could we, before Jesus loved us. In spite of our unworthiness He chose to love us. This represents the heart of God and a choice He made to shower grace upon us; a people He could have judged and rejected! Wow! What Jesus chose to do is a wonderful display of God’s character and disposition toward every human being.
Relevance to every Christian: We are called to be like Jesus Christ.
But we would not be honest without admitting it is hard, if not impossible, to be like Jesus. It is not just the faults of others that interfere with our gracious disposition. It is our justifiable anger at the things people do that are selfish, inconsiderate and many times hurtful to us and others. The Bible has much to say about the problematic nature of anger. Ephesians 4:26-31 says “Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger….” Paul acknowledges the reality of anger as a pre-sin emotion. Thus, he says it needs to be dealt with constructively and quickly before it becomes a problem. Therefore, get rid of it before the end of the day.
James 1:20 says “the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.” It is rarely a healthy Christian witness though it may be a righteous response. If it is justifiable in our thinking it is even more difficult to appease. Our desire for accountability interferes with a loving or gracious disposition. In this case we need to trust that God will hold people accountable. This can help us love when it is most difficult.
“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse… Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK…Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Romans 12:14-21
The fact that Paul says “Be angry, yet do not sin” suggests anger is a common human response to the things that people do in this life. But it is not our role in the present time to judge but rather to love. We can be confident that God will hold people accountable in the future and this is intended to help us let go of our anger. We leave it in God’s hands.
The principle: God will judge. We are called to overcome evil with good.
We are children of God called to a standard informed by the example of Jesus Christ. He exemplified a gracious disposition toward people who were undeserving of His love. Let us together commit ourselves to treating all people with kindness. Let the words of our mouth be filled with grace whenever we speak. All to God’s glory and our Christian witness.