It seems that Christians are copping a lot of heat at the moment. Whether it’s about our convictions about the preciousness of human life and the preciousness of God-ordained gender categories, or about institutional sexual abuse scandals, or about a general traditionalist, conservative, failure to ‘move with the times’.
Followers of Jesus, therefore, believe and feel like we should be on the defensive. And we’re probably justified in believing and feeling like that. But we must be careful not to lose our compassion for people who are tragically lost and living in a broken world, however hostile they may be towards us.
In the last month, I’ve heard of two young men taking their own lives. Before the last holidays, I arrived on the scene just after a man on foot was run down by a bloke in a car who was angry about a parking spot. Last week, at the housing commission units a few blocks up from the church building, a man had a stand-off with the police for a few hours before he pulled a knife and was arrested. You only need to pick up a newspaper or open a newsfeed to be reminded what a tragically broken place our world is.
When Jesus was being murdered on a Roman cross, he could have called down 72,000 angels to to defend him. Instead, he submitted himself to God’s will, and had a deep compassion on those who were doing him harm. As they crucified him, he prayed, ‘“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”’ (Luke 23:34 ESV).
We should stand up for what God calls right and true and good. But as we do, let’s not lose compassion for those around us who are genuinely lost, and only behaving as people who don’t know any better (see Matthew 9:36). More than being defeated, remember that they need Jesus.
Remember Jesus’ words in Mathew 5:43, ‘“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.’ (Matthew 5:43–45 ESV)
Live it: Ask God to give you a deep compassion and love for the broken world around you, no matter how they might treat you for the sake of Jesus.