The original version of this was posted 12/31/12
I was having a conversation in a Bible Study the other day. We were talking about how, in the Old Testament, they would not just kill the person responsible for the sin, but the whole family. And then I started talking about the necessity of communal accountability. I even referenced the recent tragedy where someone opened fire in an elementary school and killed little children. When I did, they seemed to have the opinion that these people are just “evil” and “different” from us, because we would never do anything like that.
But I differ in opinion. I said that it is easy to villainize the person who did this tragedy, or anyone who commits any number of outrageous atrocities, dissociating ourselves from them, because we “aren’t like them” and we’d never do anything like that. But are they really that much different from us?
First of all, James 2:10 tells us that whoever keeps the whole Law yet stumbles in one point is guilty of all. This tells me that no one sin trumps the others and that if we have the potential for a specific sin, we also have the potential to commit any and all sin. This sobering realization brings us to the understanding that even if we have never physically committed murder or rape, if we have stumbled in any point of the Law, we are guilty of murder and rape too, for we are guilty of all sin. Yeah, let that sink in for a moment so we can realize we are not so different.
Second of all, we are responsible for bringing heaven to earth. As such, the result of our inaction is our failure to change the atmosphere of this world. This inaction allows things like this elementary school shooting to occur. If we were busy bringing heaven to earth, establishing communal accountability, creating an atmosphere that aligns with the fruit of the Spirit, I believe it would difficult for people to get to a place where they would really consider committing such vile acts, let alone actually go through with them. No, we would rather cast stones than love.
Someone in the group disagreed, stating that as long as we do what we are supposed to, the blood is not on our hands.
This is my response:
But see, that is exactly the point; “…as long as we do what we are supposed to do…”
How often do we actually do that? Honestly?
It is not sufficient enough for us to simply abstain from the things of this world. No, we’ve got to be change-agents. We’ve got to be the salt and the light. We’ve got to make a difference or our sacrifice and abstinence is in vain. For if our lives make no difference, then our faith is our own and benefits no one but our selves. Do we really think Jesus saved us so that we can be introverts? He said if we lift up His name He will draw all men unto Himself. But do we really want to lift up His name? No, we want to be pacified with our own little religion that we practice on our own time, in the privacy of our own homes, within the confines of our own comfort zone. Is this what scripture demands? I read something about shouting it on the rooftops.
What about Jesus? He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind and even raised the dead. But all of that would have been for nothing had He not died on the cross and raised from the dead. It wasn’t enough that He lived a sinless life. If we were as devoted to our purpose as He was, we could live sinless lives too. But we’ve believed the lie for too long that we are destined to sin, ignoring the fact that we are a new creation, no longer bound to sin.
Had He not died on the cross, His life would be nothing more than just another tale a mother tells her children at bed time. It wasn’t sufficient enough for Him to simply live a good life. It’s not enough to abstain from that which is not good. No, there needs to be action accompanying our faith. I read somewhere that faith without works is dead. What works? Is it the religious ceremonies in our private, religious cathedrals and chapels and temples? Jesus’ greatest miracles were done on the road, in the streets, with the people—the strangers and the outcasts—not in the familiar places with the familiar faces.
Jesus did work.
Notice how no one ever doubted Jesus’ faith. That may be due to the fact that His faith was demonstrated through His works. Can the same be said for us?
It wasn’t enough that He believed in God. I think it was far beyond that. Actually, for any mature believer, it should be for us as well. He knew God. We should know God. Do you really think Jesus had some great divine advantage we don’t have access to? Didn’t He tell us that He would send the Comforter and that we would do greater things than He? When is the last time you raised someone from the dead? I think there is more expectation on us than we want to see in the New Testament.
Jesus wasn’t content with simply believing and abstaining from things He shouldn’t mess with. No, His faith, His knowledge, His understanding invoked a passion within Him that led Him into action. The apostles as well, concerning the title of the fifth book of the New Testament. They were not pew-warmers; they were men and women of action. They didn’t come up with excuses and complaints; they came up with solutions and made things happen. They were not content with a 9-5 and a nice, white picket fence and a 401K. I think we have gotten to the place where the Hebrews were; forty years around the mountain, were they had their tents set up, but when the pillar started moving, they questioned if they really wanted to follow, because they were comfortable where they were.
God forbid we become that Church.
But I think we already have.
Will we have to walk around the mountain for forty years until all the doubters die off before God rises up a generation that seeks His face? Can this world handle another forty years going the direction it is currently going? Or are we too busy making statements like “God is in control” and using that as our banner justifying inaction? Saying that God is in control ignores the fact that He gave us the dominion and responsibility of this earth back in Genesis. We ask God why He doesn’t intervene; why He didn’t save those innocent children; why He allows so much tragedy. And He stares us back in the face and asks, “Why did you allow it?”