1 Samuel 10-12 Luke 9:37-62
“When James and John, followers of Jesus, saw this, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven and destroy those people?’” (Luke 9:54)
If the last enemy to be destroyed is death, hatred is the assault weapon of choice that death uses. Jesus had set His course towards Jerusalem and the cross. He was so determined to get there that He walked through Samaria, instead of taking the customary route around that apostate country. Jesus sent messengers ahead to prepare lodging, but the undying enmity between Jews and Samaritans kicked in when they discovered that Jesus was heading towards Jerusalem. The people of that town refused to let Jesus stop there. James and John, not to be outdone in the hatred department, showed their rage by offering to call fire down from heaven to destroy the infidels. Jesus reminded them that He hadn’t come to practice hate and destroy people; He’d come to show God’s love and bring them salvation. He probably let them know that you don’t show God’s love by destroying others.
It would be nice to say that the world had learned its lesson and no longer engaged in hateful practices. As we see the news from around the world, we know that it hasn’t. I’d be happy to know that Christians had taken this teaching of Jesus to heart and showed love to each other and to those outside the faith. As I look at my attitudes, and as I see the words and actions of my fellow believers, I can see that we still have a long way to go. We think about people who follow other religious beliefs. Rather than showing them the love of Christ and drawing them into the truth, we’d prefer to argue, bluster even, about how wrong they are and walk away from failed evangelism efforts taking pride in the fact that we tried to tell those misguided folks about Jesus. While we need to tell them about Jesus, how we show His love is vital in evangelism. We seem to pick out certain sins committed by non-believers – even some who claim to believe in Jesus – and we make it a point to let them know how wrong we are. We may not claim to be able to call fire down from heaven on them, but they feel our wrath, which we transmit in full Christian love, of course, hoping that if they feel our wrath, they’ll fear God’s wrath even more and repent. The women caught in adultery wouldn’t stand a chance if she’d been caught by Christians today. Let’s not forget to hate those who claim to follow Jesus, but don’t agree with all our doctrines. Rather than agreeing on the essentials of the faith and allowing liberty on non-essentials, we expect others to follow our teaching completely or we write them off as heretics. And the words of Jesus ring in our heads as a reminder that Jesus came to seek and save those who are lost, not destroy anyone.
Lord, it’s so easy to hate other people, especially when I’m right and they’re wrong. I’m so glad that You didn’t hate me when I was wrong. Help me to love others when they’re wrong and use them to show me where I’m wrong in my understanding of You. Let me grow in Your grace, especially showing it to others.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.