How Jesus Responded to the Polarized and Toxic Social Atmosphere of His Time

Yesterday I had one of life’s greatest belly-laughs and wanted to share it with someone who would not judge me for my politically not-always-so-correct sense of humor. I texted my son who responded in kind and the laughter continued. 

It is like that with family sometimes because when open, non-critical communication is the norm, members are not so easily offended.  We do not have to agree at every point (and do not) but my son knows me and exactly what I find funny. He did not search between the lines for an argumentative motive because he already understood there was nothing to find. 

It’s a war

Knowing a person begins with listening. There is not much of that going on these days. Each side of almost any political issue uses the same fear-mongering tactics. Each accuses those who disagree – or even dare to question – of the inability to think for themselves. Each calls the other side’s sources liars. 

I’ve been struggling with this because it is so clear from my vantage point. As a political moderate, all sides of an issue interest me. But recent smackdowns have been aimed at me for questioning the legitimacy of sources and tactics. My comments are not for argument’s sake, they are intended to protect.

There is a war breaking out that I am more certain each day many do not see because they are in the middle of it. It has nothing to do with politics or politicians. It has no flavor of human conspiracy. This war will cost lives – those fighting in it and those observing. This war, if not ended, will result in a searing division between disciples of Christ.

Jesus was raised in a toxic and divided society such as ours. Rome ruled in tyranny over the Jewish nation of Israel.  Jewish citizens treated Samaritans with contempt. The wealth gap was huge. Women and children had few rights, disabled and sick people even less. Slavery was rampant as was sexual human trafficking. 

Even faith was practiced divisively with running arguments between sects. There were factions within factions.

As a baby boy, Jesus himself survived a murder attempt by a head of state. Later, his hometown tried to throw him off a cliff. Finally, corrupt governmental and religious forces conspired to have him killed.

How Jesus responded to the polarized and toxic social atmosphere of his time

  1. With a focus on his values. Luke 4: 42-43 “…and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also because that is why I was sent.”
  2. With insight, not naivete. Matthew 12:25 “Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, ‘Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.'” 
  3. With patience, not antagonism: Matthew 26:50-53 “Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him.  With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword… ‘Put your sword back in its place,’ Jesus said to him…’Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?'” 
  4. With love, not pay-back. Luke 9:52-55  “…he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him… When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, ‘Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?’ But Jesus turned and rebuked them.” 

We can each take the time to listen and gain understanding without settling comfortably for assumptions. Anger, hate, and fear are our mutual enemies. Let’s make it our goal to think like Jesus did and defeat all three. 

Today’s Helpful Word

James 3:17

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

 

Nancy Virden Seminar, May-2016
Photo Joe Boyle Photography

Always the Fight Ministries (ATFM) has been displaying compassion for those fighting mental illness, addiction, or abuse since 2012. Nancy is the founder and voice of ATFM and openly shares her emotional resurrection from despair.

*** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE: I am not a doctor or a mental health professional, and speak only from personal experiences and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. In the EU call 112. (For other international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!

*Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright (c) 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.., Carlo Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved

 

 

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