On Samaritans and Scoffers
There is a meme floating around on the internet. It is being passed around and "liked" by Christian people which is, again, the only reason I'm bothering to address this at all. We Christians are gospel people - or at least that is what we are called to be. We are not our own. We represent Christ on this earth, so our behavior, even the the act of "liking" things on Facebook, reflects on the message we are here to present to the world.
I just wanted to let you know that some knucklehead vandalized your car by slapping an Obama sticker on it. The last thing you want is to be driving around all day looking like an idiot.
Take Care,The import of this little note, though couched in indirect language, is obvious. It is using friendly language to send a hostile message. It is calling the supporters of this politician (who also happens to be the sitting President of this nation) idiots. The act of photographing it and putting it out on the internet signals another intent: to gather up laughter, and thus support, in calling Obama supporters idiots. This person is scoffing at the President and his supporters. Our laughter in response reveals that this scoffing resonates with us, and it makes us scoffers too.
A Good Samaritan
I've noticed that some Christians these days seem quite fond of referring to certain sins as "abominations". Though I think we are often less than prudent and far less than loving in our use of such language, the fact remains that our Bible does label some sins in this manner. But let me ask you this: when was the last time you heard a Christian decrying scoffing as an abomination?
Yet, the Bible has a surprising amount to say about scoffers, and none of it good.
The truth is, even though I don't have cable or satellite TV, don't listen to partisan talk-radio, and regulate my media intake via selective internet use, still I am exposed to scoffing every day. I'm quite certain we all are. We live in a culture of mockery and scoffing. It is in the air we breathe. It is the stuff, the veritable backbone, of our media and entertainment, and most especially of our humor. There are few forces more powerful than humor. Its very nature is to surprise us, bypassing the guards of our hearts and throwing open the closets where we hide what we really think and how we really feel. When we laugh at a joke, it is because it is speaking our emotional language. Therefore, the things we find amusing reveal a lot about our character. Scoffing is the dark side of humor. When we scoff, or when we laugh with scoffers, we are taking pleasure in tearing others down.
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven." Matthew 5:44You cannot love people and tear them down at the same time.
Finally, I found the greatest offense as a Christian was to see the signature "Good Samaritan" taken up by a person in the act of scoffing at a stranger. The expression itself comes from a story told by Jesus Christ in response to a man who was hoping to get out of having to love people he doesn't want to love. Jesus had just told him that in order to inherit eternal life he must love God with all his heart and love his neighbor as he loves himself. So the man asked, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus responded with the story of a Samaritan (a deeply despised kind of person regarded as immoral and traitorous by the Jews), a good Samaritan, who took care of a wounded man who had been ignored by all the respectable passersby. The impact of the story on the young man would have been much like the impact on a Republican being told this compassionate stranger was Obama himself. The writer of this note, wittingly or not, is making a mockery of what it means to be a Good Samaritan.
We are nearing the end of another heated election year and yet again I find myself distressed by the behavior of Christians on both sides of the political divide. (Yes, there really are committed Christians in both parties, and thank God for it, since people on both sides need Jesus!) And I am seeing Christians on both sides allow their political opinions to undermine the fruit of the Spirit and the work of the gospel in their lives and relationships. I ask and challenge you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, no matter what your political tendencies, to leave all un-Christlike behavior (all scoffing, mocking, insults, slander, malice, envy, etc.) out of your lives and any political discourse you may engage in. It might help you to do this if you keep in mind that our kingdom is not of this world. (If it were, Christ would have commanded us to fight.) The stakes of our temporal politics are only temporal, and salvation will never come through political conquest and domination, but through the proclamation of the gospel. Indeed, Christ's power in us is manifested best when we are weak.
We cannot afford to be like those whose mind is set on earthly things. Our citizenship is in heaven and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. In His time He will subject all things to himself.