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  • Writer's pictureJim Donaher

Gentleness and Compassion

In today's world, we see examples daily of how we reward 'toughness' and ignore decency. In our politics, social lives, business dealings, and even family relationships, toughness seems to resonate. But why?

When someone is bullied, what are they looking for? A protector. Someone tougher than whomever is bullying them. It works the same way for anyone who feels oppressed, powerless, outgunned. Unable to overcome the forces against them, they find politicians, movie and TV characters, and business tycoons to crush the forces arrayed against them.

Little guy, bullied, gets big guy bodyguard
From the movie, "My Bodyguard" (1980)

Christians aren't immune from feeling powerless. In fact, we are encouraged to humble ourselves before the Lord, realizing that with Him, we can do anything, but without Him, we can do little or nothing. That makes clear who the protector, the savior, really is. It's Jesus Christ.

As that is the case, indisputable for people of the Christian faith, it's disappointing to see so many self-described Christians saying such over-the-top idolatrous things about politicians and others. And what do they cite that makes these would-be heroes so attractive? Their toughness. Their plainspoken manner. They "speak their mind." They 'tell it like it is.' They 'don't back down' to anyone or anything.

Do they do and say objectionable things sometimes? Sure, doesn't everyone? Have they lied or cheated or broken the law? Only in the pursuit of a greater justice, which leads them back to God.

In the Bible, there are many, many statements asserting God's jealousy. He is the one, true, living God, and He doesn't like people worshipping anything else. The book of Jeremiah, which I just finished, describes the failure of the Jewish leaders of that time to fully respect God's requirement that He and only He is worthy of worship and praise. "Pagans" worship statues, obelisks, and other inanimate objects. God's people worship a living, active God.

Jeremiah describes how the 'go-along-to-get-along' kings of Israel and Judah thought it would be fine with God if they went in with the Pagans in and around them and worshipped as they do. "The Lord, our God will always protect us." Or so they thought.

They were surprised, then overwhelmed, when God withdrew his protection and blessings and called forth the Babylonian empire to attack and enslave Israel and Judah. In so doing, he allowed the Babylonians to destroy Jerusalem, defile the temple of the Lord, and plunder its sacred artifacts. Most of the Israelites were killed, the remainder or remnant, were taken into exile.

In the modern world, we are less likely to worship inanimate objects. Indeed, many are unlikely to worship at all. Or they embrace modern-day idols including money, power, pleasure, vengeance, sexual gratification, comfort, ease, and more. But pursuing these things to excess is no different from the ancients, who worshipped Baal and Molek. They are not God, but they receive our attention and passion in ways that are idolatrous worship, nonetheless.

Some who identify as Christians have helped these false prophets and idols to achieve great power. Without the donations and votes of the so-called 'Christian right' these candidates would never get started.

Now it is time for Christians to look in the mirror and have a difficult conversation with themselves. In our lives, we have all been fooled, some in major ways, but all in some way. I believe that some evangelical Christians have been taken in, duped into believing in insincere people who seemed 'tough enough' to fight the hard battles on their side. They were taken for their donations and their votes. False prophets, including some pastors, have misled them, as the kings of Israel and Judah did, bringing ruin to their people at the hands of the Babylonians.

It doesn't need to continue. That mirror conversation can lead to repentance. To humility. This is not a political plea. It is a spiritual one. It is depending on the one, true, living God, in the form of our savior, Jesus Christ.

With humility, reintroduce yourself to Jesus. Read God's word describing His overwhelming love and concern for each of us. Remember who He is - the one who embraced the foreigner, the outcast, the sinner. Remember when He said, 'Let he who is without sin throw the first stone"? If you have sin, and we all do, then, please, put the stones down.

Dear God, the world needs leadership. But, in many cases, we have had opportunists, not servants, due to our own lack of vigilance or an erosion of our values, allowing us to be divided and conquered.

Lord, I pray that you raise up leaders who are humble of heart and who are willing to serve others. I pray that people of faith support these leaders, realizing that their behavior, if not their expressed religious affiliation, emulates that of your Son, Jesus.

I ask this in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, AMEN!

God bless you!



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