According to a comprehensive survey on Wikipedia regarding casualties (both fatal and nonfatal), 21 percent of the casualties in World War II were attributable to friendly fire, as were 39 percent of the casualties in Vietnam, and 52 percent of the casualties in the first Gulf War. Spiritually speaking, what percent of the causalities inflicted upon Christians do you think are caused by other Christians? I invite you to read more…
It is my personal opinion that no one has done more to harm and impede the spread of Christianity than unchristian Christians. Perhaps we should all be shuttering in our shoes when we pray these words from The Lord’s Prayer: “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Do we really mean this when we say it? Do we honestly want God to judge us as we judge others?
How many times have you heard of someone leaving one church and moving to another or one denomination and changing to another, or worst of all, leaving Christianity all together because they were hurt by the gossip or judgment of another Christian? I would submit to you that this happens every day in all of our churches.
It only takes one errant gun shot or missile fire to kill one of our own soldiers. Likewise, it only takes one judgmental Christian to drive another Christian away or to dissuade a non-Christian from becoming one. Have you ever been hurt by another Christian? Have you ever hurt another Christian by your lack of mercy and compassion?
Mahatma Gandhi, a respected Hindu, was said to have admired Jesus and it is reported that he often quoted from the Sermon on the Mount. Gandhi was once asked: “Mr. Gandhi, though you quote the words of Christ often, why is that you appear to so adamantly reject becoming his follower?” Gandhi replied, “Oh, I don’t reject your Christ. I love your Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
Here is what another non-Christian has to say. This is a quote from the book, The Art of Happiness, by Dalai Lama: “If you wish the happiness of the others, be compassionate. If you wish your own happiness, be compassionate.”
Now let’s look to see what Jesus has to say on this topic. In Matthew 7:1-5 we read: “Jesus said to his disciples: “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you.” These are eerily similar words to what we pray in the Lord’s Prayer. We have been put on notice. I don’t know about you, but Jesus’ exhortation here scares me a little.
One of my favorite Christian songs captures this idea of Christians hurting Christians through “friendly fire.” The song is Jesus, Friend of Sinners by Casting Crowns. I encourage you to take a few minutes and listen to this song. Here are a few lines from the lyrics in this song:
- Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away. We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing.
- The world is on their way to You but they’re tripping over me.
- A plank eyed saint with dirty hands and a heart divided
- Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers
- Let our hearts be led by mercy. Help us reach with open hearts and open doors. Oh Jesus, friend of sinners, break our hearts for what breaks yours.
- Let the memory of Your mercy bring Your people to their knees.
I find this song to be so powerful. I hope you like it too.
In John 8:1-11, we read about the woman caught in adultery. Mosaic Law commanded that the woman be stoned but Jesus loved her, He did not condemn her and He simply told her to go and sin no more. Everyone else was ready to cast their stone…until Jesus told them that only those without sin should throw their stone. They all dropped their stone and walked away.
Jesus has granted so much mercy to each one of us that it is hard to understand why we ever treat anyone with anything but kindness, understanding and mercy. Yet, we so often fail to do that. In Matthew 18:21-35, we read the parable of the unforgiving servant. In this passage, Jesus warns against accepting God’s mercy and then failing to be merciful to others in return. The servant who was forgiven a huge debt but showed no mercy towards a fellow servant who owed him only a little ended up being handed over to torturers. We all need to heed this warning.
It is high time that we as Christians put an end to all of the “friendly fire.” As followers of Jesus Christ, we are called to forgive and be merciful to others. Mercy is God’s gift to us; we therefore need to pray and ask God to grant us the ability to be merciful towards others. Let us always remember: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7).
Heavenly Father you gave us this teaching in the Bible: “You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.” Help us to put this into practice in our daily lives, amen.
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$3,499; 11 Days – Airfare Included from Anywhere in the US Dates: February 18-28, 2019
Jerusalem • Bethlehem • Nazareth • Galilee • Via Crucis • Last Supper • Gethsemane • Dormition • Nativity Church • Capernaum • Tel Aviv