We are currently in a series at our church on Wednesdays titled “Delivered from this Present Evil World”, based out of Galatians 1:3-5. Christ Jesus gave himself for our sins to deliver us, to rescue us, from this present evil world. Amen. In this, not only have we been forgiven of our sins, we have, as marked by His resurrection, new life, a new way of living. That’s the thing. We have been delivered, we have been rescued, but we are still here. We haven’t been snatched away. We are to live a new way in the midst of this fallen, messed up world. We are to be a part of bringing His Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven, a light to the world until He comes again, living in this tension of now and not yet until it is all brought to finality. This Kingdom of God that seeks place in this world, not geographically, but in the hearts of those who enter through salvation as it crosses all boundaries of ethnicity and geography. We are to live Christian, this new life, in the midst of this lost world.
Now to the point. Specifically on my mind is the nastiness of how we are conversing with those we disagree with. Demeaning. Name calling. Put downs. Maybe not verbalizing it yourself, but laughing along with, and in a social media age, “liking” it. Feeling you are so right about something it’s ok to call names because, well, they are so wrong. It all has been bubbling below the surface but is now the norm and ok. Even celebrating it and defending it. Maybe not much new, maybe the same old things in different but same ways. But the tension is ratcheting up.
This is all de-humanizing. What is de-humanizing is anti-christ.
When you de-humanize someone, any action towards them becomes permissible.
It is certainly ok to have strong opinions. It is certainly ok to passionately believe a certain way is the best way and that other ways are dangerous. But how we go about expressing these opinions, or as some would say facts, and how we interact with those we strongly disagree with is a sign of how much we, as individuals, have become Christian. Are we living this new life we have been given by Christ in this present evil world? Which way do we go when what the world thinks is ok is averse to the Christian way of being as defined by Scripture?
In Matthew chapter 5, Jesus addresses anger and de-humanizing name calling. Murder? Subject to judgment. Unchecked anger? Subject to judgment. De-humanizing name calling (categorizing someone in a demeaning way, always with the intention of putting the other below you)? Subject to judgment. Jesus puts all three in the same boat. They all have the same root.
In the same chapter, Jesus also addresses response to a wrong (no longer eye for an eye) and how to treat enemies (no longer hate but love). All of this as part of a new way of living as we have been delivered from this present evil world because He gave himself for our sins.
The Church must rediscover the Fruit of the Spirit of kindness, goodness, and gentleness (among others). Our world deeply needs it. Is this a push back against some sort of “toxic masculinity” or some idea that Christians need to be push overs? Nope. It’s simply being Christian. You can be strong and have strong opinions (and I do have some), and express those opinions, while being kind, good, and gentle. There is a place for strong words. There is a place for standing strong. But sometimes we are more concerned about winning than we are about being Christlike. To be sure, being Christlike at times will seem like you are not winning right now in a world that wins a certain way. Remember, ultimately, it is the meek who will inherit the earth. How much do you really believe in the life to come that you are willing to live Christian now?
This all is much bigger than the specific point here. But, right now, this is a flashpoint. We must be careful, very careful, not to claim our Christianity but go about our business, specifically in the tensions of society, by the ways and rules of a fallen world. It is in the tensions of society where our faith and new life must show itself strong in what we stand for and how we express that. If we claim our faith but live by the rules of this present evil world, we are much like the chief priests, who claimed to be God’s people, but ultimately shouted, “We have no king but Caesar!”.