Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Replacing Anger with Tears

“Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do.  For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.  But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.” (Philippians 3:17-21 NIV)

In every political season, there are those who seek to divide political parties, candidates, and supporters into the good and evil categories. Each seeks to portray the other side as wrong or evil. But it seems there is a lot of that going on far beyond politics.  This past weekend, Christians protested in Houston against gays, many wearing t-shirts saying they have the right to refuse service to LGBT’s.  In recent years, Christians have also protested against Muslims building mosques in their cities or neighborhoods.  And for decades there have been protests in front of abortion clinics by believers committed to the sanctity of life.  

But in all of these protests, there is little, if any, weeping.  They are usually more characterized by anger.  Of course, that is usually how we respond to people we perceive to be our enemies.  We get in their faces (or from a distance) and remind them and others how bad and wrong they are.  

But Paul’s comments to the Philippian believers raises an interesting question: If we truly believe that the stands our enemies take have eternal implications and consequences for not only the culture, but for themselves as well, why is there no weeping for their lostness?  Tears filled Paul’s eyes as he acknowledged the many “enemies of the cross of Christ.”  And when Jesus was standing overlooking Jerusalem, He was filled with anguish at the lostness and rebellious of the people dwelling in that city (Matthew 23:37).  It is not hard to imagine tears were in His eyes.  

Yes, Jesus did get angry on occasion, but His anger was directed at the religious leaders, not the pagans.  And the same is true of Paul.  He reserved his wrath for the Jewish opposition and fellow Christians who were behaving in ungodly ways.  Both loved and had compassion for their enemies.  They recognized their lostness and the fate awaiting them if they did not repent.  Instead of anger, there were tears.

Could that be what is missing from the various fronts of the cultural wars upon which we find ourselves?  Instead of being angry at the homosexuals, the abortion doctors, Muslims, the Bill Mahers of the world, should we be not be weeping for their lostness? Should we not be filled with compassion and praying that the blind might see?

Today, if you find yourself angry with those who are enemies of God, those who advocate beliefs and lifestyles contrary to the Scriptures, recognize the compassion of Jesus and Paul towards those who were lost.  Instead of anger, we see tears.  

© Jim Musser 2014

No comments: