June 29

Luke 9:51-56

“When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?’” vs. 54

James and John had been with Jesus from the beginning. They’d seen him preach, teach, and heal the sick…they likely were confident that he was the messiah, the one sent by God for the sake of Israel. But they still hadn’t grasped the inclusive nature of his mercy and love. In their eyes, anyone who didn’t receive him was deserving of death. And they believed that as disciples they’d been called to be his enforcers. It seems they were eager to see the Samaritans burn. In the long history of Christianity there have been numerous occasions when so-called disciples have eagerly adopted that role. In countless crusades and pogroms through the years thousands of people have been put to death by soldiers of the cross. Such behaviors have left an indelible stain on the reputation of the church, one that has been virtually impossible to eradicate. And the temptation hasn’t gone away! We continue to practice exclusion in our efforts to be faithful. We write off unbelievers and imagine that God does the same. And Jesus keeps on rebuking us and calling us back to the core of the gospel. God’s mercy is inexhaustible and extends far beyond our contrived and artificial boundaries. When our message of love is refused we don’t stop our loving. It’s in loving the unlovable that we discover the essence of loving!

Thought for the Day: Why are some Christians so eager to condemn?

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