If we had His perfect perception of God, grace, sin, others’ hearts and the world around us, I would be glad to dispense the simple answer: “Exactly!”
But it is not so simple a matter.
How many of us have been channels of healing? Catalysts of exorcism? Paid our taxes with money from a fish’s belly? Fed thousands with a boy’s lunch?
Who among us has the perfect, unquestionable interpretation of Jesus’ teachings on God’s judgment, His return, and the destruction of Jerusalem? Or what it means to be perfect even as our heavenly Father is perfect?
So, in some measure, the question is limited by another: “Just how much like Jesus can we be?”
And here, I think, is the problem. We have, as a fellowship, too often tried to be too much like Christ – without the qualifications. His perfection. His perception. His judgment. His authority.
Which is still His, however we may brandish it as a weapon to enforce our perceptions as law.
There are too many among us who feel that the Jesus we should imitate, day in and day out, 24/7, is the Jesus of the Seven Woes (Matthew 23) – but that we can make up our own “woes” to deride and condemn religious leaders at our choosing.
Here are the reasons for the woes Jesus pronounces:
- Shutting the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces and refusing to go in (vs. 13-14)
- Winning a convert, only to convert him to being a son of hell (v. 15)
- Nitpicking about what it’s okay to swear by (vs. 16-22)
- Tithing the tiniest, but neglecting the greatest (vs. 23-24)
- Washing the outside while the inside is still full of greed and self (vs. 25-26)
- Living an externally righteous life while harboring hypocrisy and wickedness within (vs. 27-28)
- Giving lip service to penitence from the ways of previous generations while planning the same treachery (vs. 33-36)
How do those compare to the reasons for the woes and condemnations we pronounce on others?
Do we have what it takes to make judgments of others like Jesus does?
Or should our judgments be focused more within – where we ought to know what’s going on?
God, be merciful to me … a sinner.