Representing God is extremely difficult. No, representing God is impossible. Representing Jesus Christ, God's son, is extremely difficult. God is beyond our ability to comprehend. Jesus spent time on earth as a human. Our common bond of humanity with Jesus enables us to partially relate to Jesus. However, his dependence on God was absolute, and that is beyond our ability to comprehend.

One of our greatest challenges in representing God and Jesus Christ is the challenge of understanding God's balance between compassion and condemnation. In compassion is opportunity for forgiveness. In condemnation is opportunity for rejection. Human repentance determines if forgiveness or rejection occurs. Some who benefit from compassion refuse to repent. Some who are condemned do repent.

The congregation representing God and Jesus Christ accepts two equal responsibilities regarding evil. The first is show compassion to people. The second is to condemn evil. Doing both in ways that represent God and Jesus Christ is extremely difficult.

Some see no difficulty. Yet, the difficulty obviously arises. Those who primarily show compassion can in compassion condone evil. Those who primarily condemn can in condemnation show no feeling for others' struggles. Humans do a poor job of finding and clinging to the ability to be compassionate toward people while condemning evil. We do not quickly see, acknowledge, or honor God's balance between compassion and condemnation. We are poor at realizing when to do what.

The Pharisees were quite judgmental. To them, most everything was "black" or "white." It was merely a matter of knowing God's law and applying it to the situation. Jesus drove them crazy. He ate with those "with whom a godly person does not associate" (Matthew 9:10-13). He offered a divorcee the water of life (John 4) and allowed a sexually sinful woman to touch him (Luke 7:37-50). Compassion for people often served as his motivation (Matthew 14:14). He often forgave a person's sins (Matthew 9:1-8).

This "unacceptable" behavior drove the Pharisees "ballistic"! Jesus and the Pharisees agreed about what the law said. They disagreed over the law's priorities. That disagreement never ends! Most spiritual disagreements are not over what God's word says, but over its priorities.

Only Jesus can show us God's priorities. Only Jesus can teach us that every person is a person before God, not a problem or a statistic. Only Jesus can teach us that God loves each person and will do everything for others He does for us.

Representing God is impossible! Representing Jesus Christ is extremely difficult!

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 4 August 2002

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