I cannot recall who wrote this and when I first read it, but I have come to believe it: There is enough bad in the best of us and there is enough good in the worst of us that it behooves none of us to be quick to judge any of us.
I cleave to this view, especially in these days of America’s ongoing and deepening national political, racial, and social divisions. For I, as a person of decided opinions, would find it a facile thing to cast negative judgment on those who do not share my views.
However, to do that would be to cast damning judgment on myself for violating my call, as a Jesus-follower, to be a person of love and justice, unconditionally benevolent and fair to and for all, always and in all ways; even and especially those with whom I disagree.
This, I confess, is an arduous path to walk (for, again, I am opinionated and, generally, though quite capable of self-questioning, favor my reasoning). But, after all, I follow the One Who willingly went to the cross as an act of love on behalf of those who willingly willed to kill him.
Note: Previously, I posted the above on a social media platform. A friend replied: While I agree to some degree, when does this way of the cross become an opiate that numbs us to act to eradicate evil that crushes the soul and body of all too many?
As I deeply love and greatly respect my friend, the question called me to rethink my point of view, indeed, to look at it again through the lens of my friend’s perspective. The following was (and, with some revisions, is) my response:
I can do both. I can act (individually and with others) to eliminate the evil -isms of this life in this world and I can acknowledge that others view and act in this life in this world differently.
To do the first is to be honorable. To do the second is to be honest. For, my truth is, I wouldn’t need to be engaged in the first unless there were others who view and act in the world differently so to perpetuate the -isms against which I struggle.
And concerning Jesus’ act of self-sacrifice, “(Jesus) set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9.51). In the original Greek text, the wording translated “set his face” is, literally, “like flint”; that is, with steely resolve.
This, I understand in two ways.
One, Jesus went to Jerusalem in an act of confrontation to challenge the people to repent and to return to God; knowing that he, for the sake of dedication to God’s Law, would risk and lose his life.
Two, Jesus went to Jerusalem in an act of compassion to call the people to repent and to return to God; knowing that he, for the sake of devotion to God’s Love, would risk and lose his life.
These understandings symbolize the not competing, but rather complementary sides of my original point:
One, the labor of life to challenge the evils that exist.
Two, the labor of life to love (respect the God-given dignity) of others, all others; even those who act (willfully or unknowingly [for the result is the same]) to perpetuate the ills I combat.
Conversation, Not Conversion: Engaging “the Other” © 2020 PRA