If Jesus bent down and washed the feet of the disciples to show us who God is, why do current christians not follow that example? In the last few years I have seen some of the most hateful responses to gay people, to Muslims, to democrats, to republicans, to…..well just about anything that doesn’t line up with their belief system. We just watched the results of the Alabama Senate Election and I have to say, the division created by evangelicals is astounding. At what point did someone think Jesus was a white, republican that hates everything else and gave them license to condemn everyone?
People, all of us…including me, have some soul searching to do. If the neighbor next to us is not the point of our Love, then what do we have? If a straight evangelical cannot invite a gay atheist into their home for dinner, then what is the point? Believing in Jesus does you no good at this point. If your entire belief system is about you not going to hell and being in heaven for eternity with God but your enemy will burn for ever, then what good are you to humanity? I would think that heaven would be full of selfish people.
What if when you die you go straight to heaven. But when you get there, you are met by Jesus at the gates. As you are about to walk right in – because you know you have believed the right things – Jesus says, “Before you come in, I want you to do one final act of Love.” You say, “Of course, Jesus”. Jesus then says, “What I want you to do is think of the person you hated the most on earth, the person who did the worst to you, the person that you know hates you with everything they have.” You respond quickly saying, “I have them in mind, Jesus. I know the exact person.” Jesus says, “Great.” You ask Jesus, “Do you want me to pray for them that their eternal punishment is not so bad? Do you want me to explain to them how wrong they were? Do you want me to….?” Just then Jesus says, “What I want you to do is trade places with them. I want you to take their place in hell and let them take your place in heaven for all eternity.” At this, you are dumb-founded. You cannot believe your ears. In fact, now you are thinking that Jesus is being unfair….just down right unbiblical! “Jesus, what are you talking about? I answered the call…I believed in you….I called on your name! NOT THEM!!! How could you ask such a thing? I should go to heaven for eternity and they should burn for their disbelief and how they treated me!!! This is UNFAIR!” At this point Jesus softly speaks and says, “If that’s what you think, then you do not know my Father. Which also means you do not know who I am. Was I not on the cross, innocent of any crime, yet the people chose to murder me?” “Yes”, you say. “I showed you that when I washed the feet of my disciples, I wanted you to know that I see them as higher than myself. I needed you to see that other-centered self-sacrificial love is the only power that works….whether on earth or in heaven.” You respond by saying, “Jesus, I don’t understand?” Jesus continued, “It was only at the pinnacle of the cross that I could look at those who were murdering me out of hate and fear, look at them in sincere Love, and let them know that they are forgiven. That they were never out of my Love, but always consumed by it regardless of their decisions in life. I needed the world to see that this is who my Father is. That God Loves everyone regardless of who they are or what they have done. They can murder God out of pure hatred and God will only non-violently forgive them of anything and everything they do or say. This is the power of God…this is Kingdom of God….this is Love in action. So now that I have demonstrated that to you, I’m asking you as a follower of Jesus to partake in the ultimate act of Love for your enemy. Give up your place and let them know that no matter what they have done…you Love them by raising them higher than your self. I want you to take on the torture of the flames of hell, the biggest sacrifice of all, and let your enemy be invited to the table to enjoy the Fruits of the Spirit. How else can Love win unless we allow Love to absolutely take us over? Would you be willing to do that?”
It’s all just a story, a metaphor, but what would you do if you were asked by Jesus to give up your right at the banquet of heaven for someone you deemed as dying in sin or undeserving? If you said no, do you think you should be let in anyway? These are good questions to ask ourselves all the time. This gut check is healthy because, I believe, this critique of our own mind and actions will align us or set us off track of being the other-centered self sacrificial contributor to humanity that I believe we are all called to….regardless of what you believe. The spirit of Jesus is calling to have faith in that Love works.
So does all of this play into the way we see others today in our current political climate? Sure it does. If you stand on your political side and hurl degrading comments to the other side because you think God is on your side, then you may be the source of the problem and not a part of the solution. There is nothing wrong with spirited debate that contributes to political peace. However, what I saw in some during the Alabama Senate Election was people believing they were called to shamefully and verbally knock others down at the knees to look right. If we wondered if Jesus would ask us to give up our “rightful” seat at the table to those undeserving, do you you think it would encourage us to be more Loving to those that we see as enemies of our beliefs? Maybe it would…..and may we see that Jesus wanted those around him to know it is his Father that will go lower, raise up his enemy to show them that they are loved more abundantly than himself. Wouldn’t we want someone else to give up their position for us if we were staring at the flames of hell? I would think so…