I cannot recall a time when incivility has ruled more supremely than today. Culture has indoctrinated us to deem those who oppose our views as sheer evil. As we willingly contribute to this nonsense, we play right into the hand of media and political machines which ignite rhetoric solely to divide and conquer us. It’s disturbing, to say the least, but it’s nothing new.
In Scripture, Luke 9 records a time when Jesus traveled to Samaria, a people his people loathed. Animosity between Jews and Samaritans ran deep and wide. These two races had severed all ties, so much so that Jews traveling to and from Jerusalem took the long way around to avoid the region entirely. (When you’d rather walk an extra day than trek through a certain area engaging certain folks, the disgust runs thick!)
As usual, Jesus didn’t buy into culture’s agenda. He loved all people and pushed right through the walls that misunderstanding built.
Jesus sent His disciples into “enemy” territory to set up camp. But when the Samaritans realized Jews were in town, they gave these perceived villains the boot before Jesus even arrived.
The disciples were ticked! They couldn’t believe the nerve of these morons. Two of the head honchos, James and John, raced back to Jesus with the news. They wanted to call down fire and destroy these hateful people! (They had it coming, right?)
Jesus’ response teaches me so much.
He didn’t even address the Samaritans’ wrongdoing. Instead, Jesus spoke directly to the toxicity flourishing in the hearts of His disciples. He tried to help them see that their reaction had less to do with the poison in the Samaritans’ souls and more to do with the poison living in their own souls.
Jesus said, “I did not come to destroy life, but to bring life.” (Luke 9:55) In other words, “No matter how viciously other people act, I will not react. I choose to respond in a way that reflects My Good Father who loves me and lives in me now.”
Then Jesus nails them even further. Even though the Samaritans vehemently rejected Him, in the very next chapter, Jesus tells of a “Good Samaritan” who lovingly cared for a stranger in need when no one else would. (Wait a minute! The Samaritans just dissed Jesus! Yet He’s portraying them as “good folk”?! That’s going entirely too far!)
Do you see how radical Jesus’ response is? Instead of reciprocating the Samaritans’ animosity, He portrays them as kind and caring. (That would take a whole lot of Jesus in my soul! I’m just saying!)
Jesus Lovers, we’ve got a decision to make in this chaotic culture of incivility. Will we allow today’s toxic talking points to taint our souls? Will we echo the cultural conversation? Or will we take the high road?
Friend, the animosity fueled by our culture easily seeps into our hearts and finds a home. We’ve got to stop taking the bait. Just because someone perceives things differently than we do, it doesn’t make them evil. Just because we perceive things differently than others doesn’t make us evil. You and I don’t have to agree. But we can still make room for one another.
I’ve never been more determined to love with arms wide open while drenched in God’s Unchanging, Unfailing Truth. It may offend some, but their hatred won’t deter me.
Can we simply choose to live a love that baffles, while remaining true to the One whose Word is true for all time and all people in all situations? Can we? Let His Love and His Truth be our response every. single. time. His Love in us . . . it makes room!