Today is Good Friday. It's a special day for those of us who follow Jesus. We remember Christ's death on the cross today. We call this event the ultimate sacrifice, and God's reconciliation of the world to Him.
Christ's followers freaked out when He was crucified. The gospels tell us they scattered, afraid of association with Jesus. Can you blame them? I can't cast a scornful eye toward's Peter's famous denial–the Roman Empire was brutal in maintaining its power.
But Christians also believe that something special happened on Sunday, that Jesus triumphed over death. We believe that the victory has been won, that good really does triumph over evil. This resurrection story is understandably controversial, and many people don't believe it. But we do. We believe that Jesus Christ died on Friday and rose on Sunday.
We believe that salvation is here.
We believe that Christ came to save us all.
Don't we? I'm not sure.
If Christ came to save us all, why do I have so many friends who have been utterly broken by His church?
If Christ has won the victory, why do we need to circle the wagons to protect ourselves from outsiders?
If the cross defeated sin, where does this obsession over the speck in our brother's eye come from?
In short, why do we make the least of these wait outside?
When I read the Bible, Jesus shows limitless compassion toward the weak, and toward the outsider. He reserved his rebukes for the religious and educated–the church of his day. He came to heal, and he was unapologetic about breaking down social taboos and biases. He was a man who associated with sinners and Samaritans. His twelve included both fishermen and a man who collected taxes from them.
He invited them into community. His invitation was simple: "Come, follow me." The disciples fought. They misunderstood each other and Christ himself. These were not people who had all the answers.
But they grew and changed, and they did this because they were part of a community. The only thing Jesus required from his followers was a willingness to follow, to give it their all. The only people turned away were those too attached to their own identity and possessions. Jesus built a band of misfits and rebels.
They continued to sin as the followed Christ. They continued to sin as they built the church from scratch. But they worked together and they worked out their differences.
Then Paul comes along and he has to deal with all sorts of different ideas forming in this community. How could there not be? This group had no central structure, and no documents to follow. All they had was a story.
Still, they changed the world.
But some of us take the writings of Paul and use them as a bludgeon. Paul's writings about doctrine and church discipline become a weapon used to break people down, and to marginalize them.
You can't destroy someone with love.
Scripture instructs scripture, right? What's the greatest commandment according to Christ? Love God absolutely. What's the second? Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.
Who's your neighbor? Christ tells the story of a good Samaritan, where a member of hated group pours oil and wine on a man who'd been abandoned by the upright and the righteous.
There is no room in the church for racism.
There is no room in the church for homophobia.
There is no room in the church for putting down other denominations.
There is no room in the church for rejecting and breaking anyone who has heard the call, "Come, follow me."
Jesus came to heal the world. He came for the least of these, for the one lost sheep.
If you're actions cause hurt in the world more than healing, check your motives. I'm tired of watching Christians hurt people. We are in the reconiliation business. We're here to help the man on the side of the road, not chide him for how he ended up there.
Love your neighbor on this Good Friday. It's the only way Christ is resurrected. The cross is a sacrifice made to heal the world, not a bludgeon to beat it into submission. Are you helping others to heal or breaking them?