March 28 Esight, 2011

“We are ruled by the love of Christ, now that we recognize that one man died for everyone, which means that they all share in his death. He died for all, so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but only for him who died and was raised to life for their sake. No longer, then, do we judge anyone by human standards. Even if at one time we judged Christ according to human standards, we no longer do so. Anyone who is joined to Christ is a new being; the old is gone, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5.14-17 (TEV)

When someone understands Calvary correctly, it changes how you look at everyone you meet.

When we consider the cultural climate that provided the context of Jesus’ ministry, I cannot help but wonder about the head-space of the disciples sometimes. I mean, here was their long-awaited Messiah, but something didn’t add up. Everyone you expected would embrace this new Messiah, such as the religious leaders in whom you had placed your trust, was rejecting Him, and everyone you personally held disdain for and were disgusted by, like those Roman-loving traitors the tax collectors, and the morally destitute whores who offered themselves to anyone for sexual pleasure for a price, were the ones quickly becoming attracted. We too many times unknowingly assume that the disciples must have looked at these people the same way Jesus did, but they didn’t. The disciples quickly found themselves right in the center of the “wrong” crowd. It was this reality taking place in the hearts of the disciples that prompted the following statements from Jesus:

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in someone else’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from the other person’s eye. Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces.” Matthew 7.1-6 (TNIV)

There are two points I’d like to make concerning this passage. The text before us reveals the explanation, first off, for why Christians are too many times looked at with disdain. Jesus wasn’t telling us that if we are judgmental of others, “God” will be judgmental of us. NO NO! Though this is the common interpretation of Jesus’ words here, this is not His intent at all. Jesus’ intent is more to communicate that like produces like! If we are respectful of others, others will be respectful of us. If we give attention to others, others will give attention to us. If we are kind to others, this will awaken kindness in others toward us. If you truly love others, others will love you back, for even “sinners love those who love them.” The reason that so many in our world today are critical of Christians is that quite honestly, for two thousand years Christians have been critical of those who were not like them! Just stop and think about it.

But the second, and most important thing I’d like to point out is this idea of throwing your pearls before swine. NO ONE uses that which is sacred as dog food! NO ONE takes pearls and throws them out as worthless pig slop! Jesus here, by His comparison, is hoping to effect a paradigm shift for His disciples. Jesus, by implication, is asking the disciples why they are taking these people, whom He has esteemed as “better than” Himself, as having inestimable worth, as being worthy of coming to this planet and living a life of radical other-centered self-sacrificial love for, why are you looking at these people, even if they are tax collectors and whores, and placing them in the category of pig slop and dog food? In light of Calvary’s love, Paul makes the most beautiful statement He possibly could as to how we, as followers of Jesus, are to treat others.

“No longer, then, do we judge anyone by human standards.”

Just stop and think about it.

I wish you God’s best this week.

In light of His extravagant love for us all:

Love like the sun, love like the rain. And go enlarge the kingdom.

Much love to you all,

Herb