“[This] is how Jesus came into Jerusalem. The people noticed this strange parade. They wondered who this could be, this humble bearded man on a donkey who incited such songs. Crowd: This is Jesus, the prophet, from Nazareth in Galilee. Jesus came to the temple. He drove out all those who were buying and selling. He upended the moneychangers’ tables and the dove-sellers’ benches” (Matthew 21:10-12, The Voice).
Would we have marched and joined the “strange parade” and risked incurring the ire of the religious establishment—with the possibility of being barred from attending temple services? The people who marched may have been the non-violent BLM type protesters of today—those who aren’t content with the status quo—who cry out for justice and mercy!
Keep in mind, Jesus was viewed by the religious authorities as an insurrectionist and a fraud! The cultural and religious pressure to stay away from Jesus was incredibly strong! The weak-minded fence-sitters of the day kept their distance for fear of being implicated with Him! It took a lot of courage and guts to be a disciple of Jesus. And the same is true today.
Right now many claim to be followers of Jesus, and it’s kind of in vogue. But a day is coming when we’ll be ridiculed on social media and outed in our community for embracing what Jesus values—kindness, fairness, justice, and mercy. And here’s the hardest part, the people who will ridicule us will claim to be “Christian,” but will have redefined Christianity in their own terms. It will be a maligned version of “faith” that favors certain races and classes of people over others. They will be nation worshippers who pledge allegiance to the flag, but will despise those who don’t embrace their politics, religious beliefs and preferences. Their love for God’s commandments will lead them to try and enforce keeping the letter of the law without having any understanding of its spirit.
Revelation refers to such “Christians” as Babylon and describes them as, “A hideout for every foul spirit, a hideout for every foul vulture and every foul and dreadful animal. For all the nations have fallen because of the wine of her passionate immorality. The kings of the world have committed adultery with her. Because of her desires for extravagant luxury, the merchants of the world have grown rich” (Revelation 18:2-3, NLT).
In the midst of such craziness, how are we to live?
“God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers” (Matthew 5:11, NLT).
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father” (Matthew 5:14-16, NLT).
“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful” (Colossians 3:12-15, NLT).
Rich DuBose is director of Church Support Services for the Pacific Union Conference.© 2017 - 2023 Church Support Services. All rights reserved. Click here for content usage information.