When we stand before God the eternal judge one day, we have but one plea…..GUILTY YOUR HONOR! We know God is a just God, so all we can do is to hope for His mercy. We in fact, depend on it! At the cross on Calvary, God’s judgement on us collided directly with His mercy for us, when Jesus bore the penalty for our sins. We depend on His love and mercy. We must ask ourselves if we act the same way towards others, or do we take delight in their judgement? Allow me to share a true story with you……
After thinking for just a second he answered me, but before I tell you the rest of the conversation let me give you a little background. My friend owns a condominium. There had recently been several break-ins and thefts in the condo complex. Now with that background, let me tell you about our conversation.
In response to my question he said: “The other evening, one of the other residents, who happened to be up late, heard a disturbance in the parking lot. Looking out, they witnessed two men attempting to break into an automobile. They immediately called 911. The Sheriff’s deputy must have been in the vicinity, because they arrived almost instantaneously. They caught the men in action. The men were arrested and they’re now locked up!”
I said: “Is that your good news?”
“Yes” he replied.
“I thought you were going to finish your story with a completely different ending.” I told him.
“What did you think I was going to say?
In jest I said to him: “I was hopeful you were going to tell me that your heart was troubled by the actions of these young men. I thought you were going to tell me that you realized that these men obviously were troubled individuals. I thought you were going to tell me that the next morning you drove to the local jail, asked to visit with the prisoners, and you attempted to console them with the love and mercy of Jesus Christ.”
After a very pregnant pause he stated…… “That thought never entered into my mind!” He seemed to put emphasis on the word never.
Even though the topic immediately ended and our conversation shifted to something else, my thoughts remained on the original topic. Although I had made my statement in jest, several thoughts popped into my mind. Swirling around in my brain were three teachings from the Bible. They seemed to unite together to both disturb and challenge me.
Before I tell you what those Bible verses were, let me state for the record that if I were in my friends shoes, I would most likely have reacted the same way he did, wouldn’t you?
Here are the three separate Bible passages: The first one was from Matthew 25:36 when Jesus states He was: “in prison and you visited me.” In the second one from Matthew 5:44 Jesus tells us to “love your enemies.” Finally my mind drifted to Mark 12:31 which states: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
That conversation coupled with those thoughts from the Bible really caused me to wonder just how Jesus would have reacted to the arrest and incarceration of these men. Would He have been excited that these men found themselves on the wrong side of the law? Now don’t get me wrong, I am not soft on crime. These men should pay a price for the wrongs they committed. But, if for just one minute, I put myself in their shoes, I can only wonder just how scared I would be. I would undoubtedly be second guessing my actions, while worrying about the troubles that were ahead in the legal system. At a time like this, I would think that the consoling touch of Jesus would most likely be quite welcomed. The words of a caring friend or even any caring Christian would help to quell my fear.
This all made me think. Would I have visited those two men the next morning after they were caught? I doubt it. Should I? Would you? Should you? Let me wrap up today’s message with a couple of questions:
- Would the thought of visiting these two men ever have entered into your mind?
- Have you ever reached out to someone in trouble with the consoling words and touch of Jesus?
- Is this what the gospel calls us to do?
As Christians there is no doubt that our Lord calls us to live our life in a radically different way. Every day circumstances, like this one, should give us pause to ask ourselves: are we different or are we just like every other person?
We are still working on our new feature for the 4th Day Letters where we will offer each week’s letter as a podcast. This new additional feature will allow us to offer the message in either print or audio format; whichever you prefer. You can now subscribe to it on Soundcloud and we hope to have it available on iTunes very soon. We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.