The last few days, my Facebook feed has been dominated by three kinds of posts about Baltimore.
There are the ones saying they’ll pray, either for the city and its people, or (usually) for a) the police or b) the protesters.
There are the ones who lament that the way that a man could die in police custody the way that Freddie Gray did.
And there are the ones that post someone’s version of Gray’s rap sheet, and say that if he didn’t commit x, y, or z, he wouldn’t be dead. [The fact that anyone would let one media platform be their sole source of news about anything is way, way beyond me. Do they have agendas? Seriously?]
If you’re reading this, you probably have a take, maybe even a strong one. But let me cut to the chase: all of these options represent someone who claims Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
And that makes me go, “Wait a minute…”
See, I’ve been working on a sermon series that culminates with a look at Matthew 25:31-46, where the King separates the sheep and the goats. He praises the sheep: “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me” (v 34-36).
And then he says to the goats, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me” (v 41-43).
In or out, black or white, right or wrong. Decisive. Some of your are nodding…
Jesus says that and what I hear is:
It doesn’t matter whether or not those who were hungry could’ve worked…
Or whether the thirsty should’ve bought water and not 40s…
Or whether the stranger or the naked was black, white, legal, illegal, ISIS or Westboro Baptist…
Or whether the imprisoned person deserved to be there or not for crimes they had committed against humanity…
Jesus said you were either with him or you weren’t because of how you loved. Seriously.
I’m happy that I haven’t been beaten down for breaking the law – driving too fast, ignoring curfew, whatever. I’m thankful I haven’t been cut off by the Creator of the Universe for the times I benefitted from someone else’s injustice, or lusted after objects, money, or prestige. But the thing is, to the King, it doesn’t matter whether you did it or not, it matters how you grew to show love.
Love your neighbor.
Love your enemy.
Pray for both. Pray for those who persecute you.
If we’re going to claim to follow Jesus, and our “hot take” isn’t one of love, then we’re not following at all.