Monday, October 18, 2010

Grace for the Graceless

I have a problem. I am incredibly intolerant of the intolerant. I have a hard time showing grace to the graceless, loving people who I feel aren't very loving.

If I wanted to, I could read through the gospels and justify my position.

You find Jesus over and over in the public places calling out the Pharisees and the religious for being ungracious, unloving & condemning of others.

Time and again he points out their hypocrisy, their hatred. The way they close the door to the Kingdom of God in the face of people who are desperately searching for it. And then they stand outside the door as well.

Just pick a random chapter or two of one of the gospels, I bet odds are pretty good you'll find something along those lines.

But Jesus didn't always act like that. That's just what he did in public...

I get the idea that Jesus publicly called out the Pharisees because their own ungraciousness & condemnation was so public.

He needed to let people know that he was not like that. That God was not as the Pharisees & religious represented. The original offense was so public, the darkness in the hearts of the religious was front & center, so Jesus had to illuminate it in front of others.

But there are times, in private, where it's not quite the same. There were opportunities away from the crowds & the spotlight, where we get a slightly different picture of Jesus. A picture of someone who really is accepting of everyone, even the religious or intolerant.

John 7:36 reads, "Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee's house and reclined at the table."

The rest of the chapter continues on from that point...but I think there's something so easily overlooked here. That even though Jesus ate with tax collectors, hookers and sinners...he was willing to eat with the Pharisees too. The ungraceful, intolerant religious people.

He called out to them as well. And Jesus was invited into his house, he didn't respond with the same kind of hostility and condemnation he showed the Pharisees in public.

He went to his house, and reclined at his table.

Jesus grabbed the public differences & disagreements, and took them private. Dealing with someone in a smaller relational setting.

Do you find yourself doing the same with people you disagree with? With whoever you view as the "graceless" or the "hypocritical?"

Or, like me, do you instead struggle to relocate the situation from the public shouting match into the private conversation?