I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
Not all that complicated, is it? And yet, so very hard to do.
I read several blogs, and in my effort to “catch up” on them all, I plowed through a number of posts today. One that caught my attention was one Christian leader denigrating another high profile Christian leader. The “accuser” was quick to slap labels like “false teacher” or “heretic” on this brother. I can not begin to understand how over-blown one’s ego must be to be so sure that another self-professed Christ follower is in the wrong. There wasn’t a hint of charity or grace afforded this individual.
To justify his diatribe, he even marshaled over half a dozen verses to prove his point. Who cares that none of the verses were actually relevant for the situation at hand? Who cares that he drug this fellow brother’s name through the mud? It would be one thing if he actually knew what he was talking about, but where true knowledge is lacking, ideology and dogma are more than sufficient for convincing ourselves of our own rightness.
I wish that this were an isolated instance within the family of God, but it seems to be that with most of the theological conversations I follow, there is always someone expressing how wrong another is. And not just wrong, but dangerously wrong. So wrong that one’s standing within the “family” might be called into question.
And yet, sadly, I know that I too am guilty of the very same sort of thing. A more youthful, idealistic, theological self was quick to point out the errors of others. At times, even delighting in pointing out how wrong they were. So very sure that with Bible in hand, that it could (and should) be wielded as a club with which to beat others into doctrinal submission.
I’d like to think that I’m older and wiser now. More forgiving. More accepting. More loving. And yet, the vicious circle of finger pointing that I’m attempting to dismantle here so obviously includes me. The very act of calling the “accuser” wrong, presumes that I am right. Perhaps it is best to say nothing at all.
But, Jesus does in fact say something.
I give you a new commandment…
And lest you think I quote these words out of context, this is as universal a command as Jesus ever issued. Meaning there is never a time when love, grace, and charity are not the right thing to extend towards each other. Even to an “accusing” brother who lashes out in his own ignorance and brokenness.
God have mercy on us all.