Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Give 'em Hell?

Woe to you Korasin! Woe to you Bethsaida!...and to you Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No you will go down to the depths. Luke 10: 13, 15

Some elements of Christianity harbor a propensity for calling down judgment on others with a flippant air of self-righteousness. After all, don't people deserve what they have coming to them?

Perhaps there's a benefit to taking a big step back and thinking before we speak.

In context, Jesus commissioned seventy-two disciples to fan out across the region and preach the Gospel. Traveling rabbis/teachers walked by faith and were at the largesse of those they had contact with for food, shelter and so forth. Under no circumstances were they to ask for money or charge for their services.

In Luke 10:4 Jesus instructed them to go barefoot. According to Bruce Chilton they were to be, "barefoot priests, treat the land as holy, villages as temples." This manner of travel paralleled God's instructions to Joshua. "I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses." Joshua 1:3. How would this happen? DNA transfer.

These freshly appointed emissaries would pass through Gentile territory, just like Jesus did. It was customary at that time for a Jew before re-entering Jewish land to shake the dust of Gentile soil off his feet to demonstrate it was polluted and unholy. While living in Haiti we experienced something similar to this at the border crossing between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Guards on the Dominican side washed the tires of our vehicle to remove any traces of Haitian soil before allowing us to proceed. The bad blood between these two countries goes back hundreds of years and is still an issue.

Luke 10:11 in the NIV gives the impression that this action was an indictment against the lack of customary hospitality withheld. The Jonathan Mitchell New Testament, taken from the Koine Greek, presents a different perspective. Not afforded the expected courtesies given to travelers, the disciples were to demonstrate the kingdom in action. Dusting the soil off their feel showed that they were not taking anything that wasn't offered to them. In addition they transferred their DNA to the ground and marked it as kingdom property.

What does this have to do with calling down God's judgment on people? Jesus reserved His harshest criticism and words of warning for areas open to the Gospel, including his adopted hometown Capernaum. While this seems unfair, it makes perfect sense. Those who know the truth, and ignore it are held to a higher standard than those who have never heard.

If we want to call down God's judgment we must be prepared to face the same thing, but in a greater measure. Judgment starts with God's house first (1 Peter 4:17). The measure we use, we receive in return with even more added to it (Luke 6: 37-38).

I'm not suggesting that believers turn a blind eye to sin, their own included. We need to keep our attitudes under constant surveillance. Jonah ran from God's call to preach repentance to Nineveh because he didn't like them. He was sure God would spare them if they had a change of heart and he didn't want to see that happen. His desire was for them to get the punishment he felt they deserved. We don't want to make that same mistake.

How about you? When you see things you know are ungodly and you must speak out, how can you do so in a manner that brings life and a fruitful outcome? If you want to call down judgment on others, what type and how much are you willing to endure first? How can you effective communicate the love of God to those who need it? Seasoned with genuine love, it will probably be well received.

No comments:

Post a Comment