What Are Our Methods?
Many of the religious leaders in Jesus' day believed the approved method of God's people included support of nationalistic, sometimes violent revolutionary activity against Rome. But Jesus rejected their approach completely. They were willing to kill to get their way; Jesus was willing to die to get his way. This is one reason why God will always defeat evil. God is willing to suffer to get what he wants; evil is only able to cause suffering -- it is not able to absorb or endure it.
One time Jesus wept over Jerusalem, saying, "If you had only known what would bring you peace -- but now it's hidden from your eyes."
What are these things to which Jesus was referring? What were his methods for dealing with people who were far from God?
First, he challenged Israel to act like Israel. If you're a child of God, act like it. If you're forgiven, act like it. Be salt. Be light. Turn the other cheek. Give. Forgive. Love God and love others for the good of the world.
Second, he welcomed sinners and ate with them.
Third, he brought those outside the covenant community inside.
He preached good news, healed the sick, delivered those who were oppressed by the devil.
And, finally, he went the way of the cross. This way involves overcoming opposition to God through voluntary suffering rather than retaliation in kind. No counter-demonstrations. No picketing. No revenge.
I think there are some things that would bring us peace today. I'll spend time over the next several days covering these topics:
- We need to revisit our categories -- specifically who we are, who our enemy is, what our calling is, and what our methods are.
- We need to learn the language of our culture.
- We need to listen more than we speak.
- We need to follow the way of the cross and be willing to suffer for the cause of Christ.