Condemning your own
When Reuben returned to the pit and saw that Joseph was not in the pit, he tore his clothes. He returned to his brothers, and said, “The boy is gone; and I, where can I turn?” Then they took Joseph’s robe, slaughtered a goat, and dipped the robe in the blood. They had the long robe with sleeves taken to their father, and they said, “This we have found; see now whether it is your son’s robe or not.” He recognized it, and said, “It is my son’s robe! A wild animal has devoured him; Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces.” Then Jacob tore his garments, and put sackcloth on his loins, and mourned for his son many days. All his sons and all his daughters sought to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted, and said, “No, I shall go down to Sheol to my son, mourning.” Thus his father bewailed him. Meanwhile the Midianites had sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, one of Pharaoh’s officials, the captain of the guard.
For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of deepest darkness to be kept until the judgment; and if he did not spare the ancient world, even though he saved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood on a world of the ungodly; and if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction and made them an example of what is coming to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man greatly distressed by the licentiousness of the lawless (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by their lawless deeds that he saw and heard), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment —especially those who indulge their flesh in depraved lust, and who despise authority.
There are many things in life I do not understand, and most of these I will not take the time and effort to learn. I just don’t have that much time and there are enough important things to focus on. I don’t need to understand hating people, particularly people I have never met.
There are lots of insulting words flying around social media yet again, and I don’t feel the need to add to them. Like Reuben, I come to the event too late, after those whom the world would call my “brothers”, though we share different sets of parents and upbringings, have done something horrible to yet another one of my “brothers”. Everyone wants me on their side. I just want out of this family with so many issues.
It isn’t simple, calculating the course of choices we make. Rage filled streets do not fill up out of nowhere. There is strategy and manipulation, buying and selling souls that goes on long before these events begin. The story ends with lots of excuses. People claiming they “had no other choice”.
But, as I was reminded at church this morning… we always have a choice. From our first to our last breath, we always have choices. We just may not like our options. It is easy to say that we all just need to stand up against hatred. It makes it harder when it pits you against your own household. As Jesus promised, He came to bring a sword, not peace, and doing what is right pits parents and children against one another and brothers against sisters, husbands against wives. Friends part ways over doing what is right. Are you willing to give up your friends and family to do what Jesus commands?
Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were perplexed at these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” They were greatly astounded and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For mortals it is impossible, but not for God; for God all things are possible.”
Peter began to say to him, “Look, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields, for my sake and for the sake of the good news, who will not receive a hundredfold now in this age—houses, brothers and sisters, mothers and children, and fields, with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.” “
People make choices for reasons, both good and bad. I will not be able to understand them all, and do not plan on even trying. But Jesus did. From the cross, His own reason for dying there, from his own mouth was: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.
There’s no excuse for sin. Not mine. Not yours. Not anyone else’s. That is the point truth brings us to and love moves us from that point onward. Love your enemy does not mean agree with them, but it still means love them. If we expect anything other than the transforming love of Jesus to change people, we are still just playing a losing game of politics.
Who are your enemies?
How are you loving them?
What does it cost you?