If you happen not to be in a coma, and if you’re not so ‘off-the-grid’ that WikiLeaks and the Russian hackers can’t find you, then you’ve likely had recurrent visits lately from emotions you’d rather avoid, like anger, frustration, disgust, disappointment, and for some, maybe even despair. We Christians in America struggle with what to do and want to find some grand, powerful and victorious response to the unprecedented challenges facing us these days. If that’s true for you, perk up. This isn’t new stuff. Those early followers of Jesus had exasperating struggles like that, too, and while we still have a modicum of sanity, it might be worthwhile to get some tips from Him.
In the midst of Jesus’ final journey to Jerusalem, two of His followers encountered an inflammatory incident. They wanted Jesus to authorize a devastating and decisive retaliation against their opposition, so they made a bold and radical request. There was a customary travel practice used by groups who traveled in that day, and one of them went sour. Groups would send emissaries ahead to upcoming towns on their route to prepare accommodations. When Jesus’ emissaries came to Samaria, they, along with the One who sent them, were rudely repulsed. Luke doesn’t offer details, but the Samaritans’ rejection was apparently more egregious than just being inhospitable and inconsiderate. Maybe they used foul, socially unacceptable language. Maybe they included wild, unverified allegations about Jesus’ or the disciples’ behavior. Maybe they were spreading things about them that weren’t true. Maybe James and John were just sick of unprovoked disrespect from godless people and wanted to do something to fight back. In any case, when they came to Jesus, they had had enough and had a plan to do something about it.
With apologies to Luke, let me offer ‘Gallagher’s Not-Quite-Inspired, Contextually Adjusted Paraphrase’ of their request…
“Lord,” they said, “we’re fed up with these people. Those Samaritans are a bunch of arrogant, ungodly, egomaniacs, and they’re publicly mocking you. We need to send them a message they can’t ignore, and that others will never forget. We want the power to call down fire from heaven just like Elijah did and fricassee the whole crowd—turn ‘em all into crispy critters, just like Sodom and Gomorrah. What do you think?” (Luke 9:51-54).
It’s tough when you’re looking for applause and get smacked with an embarrassing put-down, but that’s what happened to them. Jesus not only refused to acquiesce to their vindictive battle plan, He countered it with a strong rebuke. The specific content of that rebuke is not revealed, but here’s His conclusion: “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of…” (Luke 9:55 NKJV). Their human instincts were drawing attention away from the larger picture. There were issues at stake much more vital than the racial conflict at the core of the Samaritan incident, more important than their rude, demeaning behavior, and certainly more crucial than the loss of any travel amenities – and the disciples needed to see that.
Even in the presence of the Lord, Himself, it was easy for them to get so caught up in the swirl of emotionally incendiary minutia that they lost sight of the more important issues. Jesus reminded them, and us, that the warfare we’re engaged in and the battles we fight are spiritual, and the larger picture must be kept in focus regardless of transient, superficial distractions. In light of that, there are some things we would do well to consider in this wildly contentious election season. Amid the blinding fog of allegations, accusations, blatant corruption, and the infectious plague of power and greed, it will be hard, but we must get a grip on the issues that are vital and long-term.
- Jesus’ rebuke brought them back to the spiritual nature of the conflict. There aren’t a dozen different ‘spirits’ at war here, only two, and we don’t need to elaborate extensively on who they are. Suffice it to say that they aren’t the ‘Republican spirit’ and the ‘Democratic spirit’. Like James and John, we get angry and frustrated, and sick of the abuse hurled at us, and our desire to retaliate is understandable. The other side does need to be taught a lesson, but not the kind of lesson our fallen nature would dictate. They do need to be hit with some fire from heaven, but they need a redemptive fire, not a destructive one. They need to see and hear an unyielding passion to live out a message that saves, builds, redeems, and preserves life. There is no place else for them to get that message if we fail.
- Jesus’ rebuke of His beloved followers was not a statement of approval for anything the Samaritans did. Their twisted brand of Judaism was repugnant to God, but His desire was for their salvation, not their destruction. Jesus was headed to the cross to make that possible because no amount of judgmental fire poured out on them could do it. For us, keeping the cross in view means more than just condemning offensive actions and tactics. It means contrasting them with a message of hope and redemption. It means replacing them with something better. Light offers something the darkness can never create, and that it cannot resist.
- Keeping the cross in focus does not mean running away. Jesus entered the enemy’s arena and engaged him where he was. We are sent to do the same, and if we refuse, then who else can? The challenge is overwhelming, but David didn’t defeat Goliath because a rock is better than a sword. Victory depended on trust, courage, obedience, and a willingness to die rather than hide in the hills, like everyone else.
- The vital spiritual issue in this election is not Hillary’s crimes or Donald’s behavior. It is the future of the Supreme Court. It is the judges they appoint, not the individual candidates, who will decide what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong’ for America. That means that those of us who vote, then, are the ones really making that vital, spiritual decision.
This election must not be about who we ‘like’ or whose actions we approve. It’s about whether we will have judges who can discern which bathroom to use, who know what constitutes a marriage, and who know that the little heart beating in a pregnant woman’s womb belongs to a human being. Not to vote for Donald Trump in November is to willingly grant judicial power to those who can’t figure those things out, and who fiercely oppose all that we believe.
© 2016 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
- Can we call down fire from heaven? ~ Tweet That!
- David didn’t defeat Goliath because a rock is better than a sword! ~ Tweet That!
RELATED POSTS ~
- Crude vs. ‘Criminal’, October 8, 2016
- A Deplorable Situation, September 16, 2016
© 2016 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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Ron, once again you have spoken truth in this day. I have found myself wishing God would “fry” them all, however He has promised they WILL be judged…as all of us will be judged. If only voters would see and understand the Supreme Court will impact this country far beyond our life times. My concern for my children and grandchildren far outweighs my anger at the disrespect for the American people by the elite, the corruption on the left and right, the biased news media, the unrelenting cry for abortion on demand, and the absolute removal of God from our schools and the public square. The call to pray for our nation and our government is so clear, it’s almost deafening!
Wow! What a great response. I should use you as a guest blogger. It’s always a blessing to see your words, but even more so to feel the passion that drives them. This nation and the Church of Jesus Christ are in desperate need of both right now. Thank you for demonstrating a faith that is not just a tradition bolstering mechanism used to prod you toward the obligatory hour on a pew once a week. And thanks, too, for the prayers that I know accompany your comments. May they mirror the passion I sense in your words. The propaganda machine that masquerades as a collection of news organizations works itself into a lather every day presenting Donald Trump as the impending American disaster to be feared. All the while they hide and protect the one whose policies will wreak irreversible havoc on what’s left of a once great nation. But our invincible Hope lives in spite of it all, Darlene, so let’s keep on standing against the tide and using all the influence we have.
You certainly make a point for the long game. Thank you.
Thanks for the comment, Patty, and I do think about the long game–got grandchildren who will have to live in the nation we’re about to hand them. I want to at least do all that I can to make it as good–great–as we can manage to preserve.
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It really is so disheartening to be placed in the position of voting for the lesser of evils in the upcoming election. Hillary’s actions have been evil incarnate in my personal opinion. I will vote for Donald Trump. He does not need personal gain. Personal gain is exactly what Hillary has been and is about.She has already sought to destroy our Christian way of life and seeks to do more of the same by agreeing with Obama’s agenda. God and prayers for Trump are our only options.
Thanks so much, Linda, your comment was spot-on, and I appreciate your courage, and your commitment to seek the best path, even if there are rough spots whichever way we go– God never promised that wisdom would be easy to apply or that it would feel good, only that it was right, and would lead to the best results. God bless you, Linda, and may He multiply the impact of your influence.