or – Our Three Denials
Often, we Christians draw a line in sand around political issues we mistake for biblical issues. Abortion, homosexuality, gun control, Muslims, Israel. Certainly we can find isolated Bible verses that support our position; we quote them often enough. I admit I have.
But I’m here to tell you I’m a red-letter kind of gal. And when I want Truth, I go back to those red letters in my Bible time and time again. And as I reread them and ask the Spirit for clarity to understand them, I continue to see, over and over, the three lines in the sand Jesus drew.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:43-45, Luke 6:27)
As we continue to vilify all who are not like us, treat “them” like groups who need to be condemned, isolated, in some cases obliterated, we act in fear. But Jesus calls us to act in love. He calls us to pray for enemies, whoever we might consider to be a foe, whether a rival, assailant, detractor, terrorist or sinner. We are called to be more than our basest instincts chain us to be.
“I was hungry, and you gave me nothing to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t take me into your homes. I needed clothes, and you didn’t give me anything to wear. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t take care of me. They, too, will ask, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or as a stranger or in need of clothes or sick or in prison and didn’t help you?’ ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you failed to do for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you failed to do for me.” (Matthew 25:42-45)
Exactly how many starving immigrants do we have to deny from our warm, spacious homes? How many millions of refugees fleeing for their lives will continue to wander in deserts, in oceans with no opportunity for safety? How many hundreds of thousands of children have to die before we allow the Holy Spirit to transform our hearts and minds from fear to love?
“So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. Everyone will know you as My followers if you demonstrate your love to others.” (John 13:34-35)
How can we say we love Jesus if we turn our backs on His words? How we can we say we follow Him if we refuse to stand with Him? Peter denied Jesus three times, but that was before he knew what we know. Before the Holy Spirit took up residence in him. Before Jesus allowed him to declare his love three times face to face to repent of those denials.
We need to stop condemning, stop finger-pointing and extend the same loving, grace-filled invitation Jesus extended to Levi the tax collector. And break bread at the same table.
In the face of those lines in the sand, will we continue to deny Jesus three times over and over knowing what we know?