by: Tiffany Graham
Let’s say there are people in your church, people who have irreconcilable differences of belief. Polygamy, pacifism, women as pastors, drug abuse, homosexuality – so many possibilities. What should you do?
KICK THEM OUT. Obviously. Problem solved.
But what about the people who just got kicked out? Not a problem. There are lots of other churches out there. Besides, they’re doing it wrong. We’re the ones who are right. Next question.
Does that mean we support schism? But it’s necessary.
That we have given up on unity? We have to keep ourselves pure.
Is it so difficult for us to love each other? We must follow God’s law.
Which reminds me …
Jesus is talking to a Samaritan woman at a well in John 4. And something amazing happens. The woman tells people that she has met the messiah, and they believe her. The Samaritans! They didn’t follow the law. They were doing it wrong.
In John 3, Jesus chastises Nicodemus, a man who has dedicated himself to God, to studying God’s law, and Jesus is telling Nicodemus that’s not enough. He needs to be born again.
Jesus’ call to repentance isn’t aimed at the Samaritans who are doing it wrong. It’s aimed at religious people who think they’ve got God figured out.
So does this mean there is something about the way we do faith that makes us harmful to the world? So harmful, in fact, that it took God coming down to our level to show us how wrong we are? Because the people Jesus speaks against are those who have dedicated their lives to serving God. They KNOW God. Just like us. Right here.
We are people who love God so much that we’ve tried controlling him. We are crazy religious!
We speak about love. But we demonstrate our “love” in ways that too often cause harm. Because they’re doing it wrong.
Jesus comes along and points out that this isn’t God-like behavior. They called him a heretic. They beat him.
They claimed to love God. And they killed him.
So I should note that Jesus didn’t offer to forgive the Samaritan woman, or the lame man at the pool, or the blind man. He offered them comfort in spite of what the religious leaders thought these people deserved. And you know why I think that is? Jesus loved them. The same way we should be loving each other.
Because God welcomes our doubts. Our questions. Our failures. Our flaws. I think God kind of sees those parts of us as normal. Lovable even. What God doesn’t welcome is our spite. Our hatred. Our judgment.
We’re supposed to adore each other the way God adores us! Even if they’re doing it wrong.