How did Jesus handle “the difficult people”?

Jesus was not above the issues of his day and even debated the Pharisees, lawyers, and Sadducees on occasion. Yet there is no mistake, that as difficult as these people were, Jesus loved them. We are called upon to deal with sexual issues in our culture that come flying at us from difficult people too.

Andrew Walker in his book entitled “God and the Transgender Debate” observes that “All kinds of people came to speak with him [Jesus]  during his time on earth…those whose lives had been messed up by others, and those whose lives had been messed up by themselves. And Jesus loved them all, made time for them all, and respected them all. He didn’t always agree with them but he always loved them.”

We find an amazing verse in Matthew 12:20 where Jesus described his approach to difficult people by applying an Old Testament text to his own life and ministry: “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench.”

Let’s face it. Whether we are talking to an individual who supports abortion or someone defending transgenderism or gay issues we must remember behind those eyes and that voice is someone whom Jesus loves. The way we love is by extending grace to people who live contrary to the Biblical truth we believe.

GRACE LISTENS. I am amazed how sensitive questions can open a person’s heart to hear the truth. Questions like: Tell me how you arrived at your belief? Tell me how that belief has sustained you and helped you? Have you ever considered an alternative to your belief?  The believer in Christ should be the greatest listener in the world.

GRACE LOVES. Sometimes the people who resist us the most are people who have never seen true Christ-like love extended to them. Extending love does not mean embracing their beliefs, decisions, or life-style. Extending love means not letting people crumble or become buried under the weight of their struggles. We know sin never ends well. Along the way as we shine the light of the love of Christ to them, we can pray the Spirit of God will help them see the difference between what they embrace and what Christ brings to them.

GRACE NEVER HIDES THE TRUTH. Showing grace does not mean we are compromising the truth. After all Jesus said it is the truth that frees people. We don’t hide the truth because we understand how  dangerous and deceptive their condition really is. We cannot hide the truth because we know there is no other ultimate solution to the number sin has done on us as a human race.  We dare not hide the truth because we know that God’s Word is a totally reliable compass and road map for all the detours the human heart can invent.

Walker put it this way: “It’s about people: precious people made in the image of God who are hurting, who are confused, who are angry, who are scared, who may have been told by their family that they are unwelcome….There is no hurting person he [Jesus] would mock, or shun, or insult, or sneer at. He is so determined to pursue what is best for all of us that he died—excluded, mocked and rejected—to secure it.”

This is the day of the church. Let’s not miss the power and privilege of extending grace. Not all will receive. Some will push back, but some…oh…some may just come weary and disillusioned to Jesus! We need to be there for them. Think it thru

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IS IT FAIR THAT THE WICKED GET GOOD STUFF?

life not fairThis question raises a lot of resentment in the heart of one who works hard to live for God and please Him. Often the short-term reward for such commitment is disappointing. In fact it can even inflame us against God Himself.  Asaph spoke about this troubling thing in Psalm 73. Asaph was David’s music director. He was a faithful believer and walked close to God as he led others in worship. Yet he confessed in Psalm 73:2 “My feet had almost sllipped; I had nearly lost my foothold.”  Why did he make that candid confession? What was happening to him?  He had noticed how well the wicked were doing in life, despite their evil life-style. It appeared to him that God was allowing the wicked to do well. God seemed to be much kinder to the enemies of God’s  people than He was to His own people. Asaph’s struggle was like many of ours: Why keep putting yourself out for God and living a pure life if God is not going to deal with the wicked? Where is the justice or fairness in that?

Recently I was reading something Colin Smith observed in his little book entitled Jonah: Navigating a God-Centered Life: “They were angry with God about grace.”  God reminds us that he causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust [Matt. 5:45].  The blessings bestowed on the wicked are the result of the grace of God that could lead to their repentance.  The next time we get a bit “ticked off” about how well God seems to let my wicked neighbor do, let’s stop and think about the overwhelming grace we have unworthily received. Then, pray for our neighbor that God’s grace on him would lead to his salvation. And let’s not be angry with God about grace. Think it thru