“And I brought him to Thy disciples, and they could not cure him. Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.” (Matthew 17:15)
Watching the pot
Firstly, I’m not a hundred percent sure who Jesus is referring to when He says “generation”. The man speaking at the beginning of the above passage had a son who was possessed with a particularly sticky spirit. One that, Jesus says, “goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.” (17:21) But again, Jesus seems to level His statement at everyone. Granted, He had just come down from the mountain. The mountain top after which all “mountaintop experiences” take their namesake, after all. His Father testifies from Heaven in much the same way He did at the river Jordan after Jesus was baptized with the full measure of the Holy Spirit. “Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” says the Father (Mark 1:11). He says it again on the mountaintop: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him.” (Matthew 17:5) And now, in the shadow of that same mountain Jesus has to again deal with the same old, same old. So why should we tire of the pace at which things are flowing, if they seem to be flowing a little slow for our tastes? Odd as it might sound, a river with sub-freezing water will still flow, but only because it’s moving–if that makes sense.
“Then came Peter to Him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto Him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.” (Matthew 18:21-22) Peter got it eventually. In his first letter, he expresses it thus: And above all things have fervent (i.e. hot) charity (love) among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” In other words, it would seem that the tolerance we have, or need, for those with whom we’ve been tasked to love is proportionate to the love that we need, in order to tolerate them–and people need more than toleration. They need love. The love of God and the love of you. He continues: “Use hospitality one to another without grudging.” (1 Peter 4:8-9) I suppose it had to be stated by someone. It’s almost like Peter got the privelege of asking the first questions of Jesus that seem today to be common knowledge. “How many times do I forgive someone?” Four-hundred ninety times and that’s it. No. “The multitude of sins.” That’s every last one.
Calling the kettle black
“And because of iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” (Matthew 24:11)
If you take two-hundred twelve (boiling point) and subtract one-hundred eighty from it (literally turning it around, 212-180=). You get thirty-two (32). That’s freezing, if you didn’t already know. Jesus prophesys in the above verse about a time that looks, for all intents and purposes, like a time right about now. Iniquity abounds. The side-effect of which is that people who, presumably up till this point, had love in some way, shape and form, let it slip and slide and freeze up. This is not good. Because if someone needs love–the fervent love of Jesus–where can they look if they can’t look to Christians? Jesus can’t do everything by Himself, audacious as that sounds. If you have the fire of His Spirit, then let it thaw you out. Sure it’s hot. It’s fire for God’s sake. But ice will melt no other way. You can understand how Jesus would exclaim as He did and how He’d want to leave off dealing with a world that continued to show Him the cold shoulder. If anyone deserves (?) to be frustrated with us, it’s Jesus. And yet He effectively dealt with the demon in the child, jettisoning His frustration. Let us do the same. Be patient with people (and yourself for God’s sake). Love them. Fill them. Thaw them out. Who cares if iniquity abounds, forgive it.
And God the Father will say over you what He did over Jesus.