Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ethics or the Cross?

It is a dangerous thing to cruise the religion section of the Huffington Post and I admire the guts of any Christian who posts something there. The comments section can be brutal. Most of the time I choose not to look at them. But today I did after reading an article by Jim Wallis on bullying.

A lot of the comments basically boiled down to this:
Christians, if they really want to stop the problem, will just need to stop being Christians because their teaching is the cause of the bullying in the first place. Jim Wallis is a hypocrite.

Then they would usually bring up something about the stupidness and impracticality of "love the sinner, hate the sin."

After reading them, I became convinced that most people hadn't even read the article. If they had, they certainly weren't responding to it. They were responding to some other beef they had with people who follow Jesus.

Another thing that happened (and I think Wallis was guilty of this a bit as well) was that the whole "discussion" devolved into ethics. It was all about the teachings of Jesus.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love the teachings of Jesus. I study them with my students. I wrestle with them. I am angered by them. But at the end of the day, I think they are not what it is all about.

If we are going to talk about bullying, we can certainly bring up times when Jesus taught about loving our enemies or serving each other or loving the least of these. And I think those are great things to bring up.

But if Christians stop there (and I think we have given that it seems EVERYONE thinks this is all about ethics) then we miss the whole reason for our faith.

We don't follow and trust and worship Jesus because he was a good teacher. We do those things because he was God in the flesh. We do those things because he took the sins of the world upon himself and died in our place. He suffered unimaginably for our sake.

And he did it for everyone. There is no one that his love does not extend to, even if they don't realize it or want it.

And God raised him from the dead, unleashing a whole new creation right into the middle of this one.

We can't stop at ethics! We always have to go back to the cross!

We stand with the bullied because we know that Jesus loves them and died for them and we cannot stand by while someone tries to take that away from them. We forgive and love the bully because we know that on the cross Jesus forgave the people that bullied him.

We know that God has shown that he loves the whole world, no exceptions.

It doesn't matter if we like the way someone lives. It doesn't matter if we disagree with them. It doesn't matter if someone is gay and you aren't sure that is a good way to live.

Jesus died for them.

That changes the whole conversation. I think that gives Christians a more compelling reason to stand up to injustice than anyone else can offer. Let's not settle for an ethics debate.

Let us remember the full story. Let us remember the cross. Let us remember the empty tomb. And may we and the world be forever changed by it.

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