The Third Degree

“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” (1 Timothy 1:15)

No kidding. A consolation I have (in my hip pocket, as it were) is that any person you see in the world is the one person for whom Jesus would have died were they the only person God ever chose to make. Rewind this understanding back to “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). This simply means that Jesus needed to die if God started something along the lines of the world in which we live. What with free will and sin and whatnot. Humanity being made in His “image and likeness” (Genesis 1:26), God takes it personally were there not a means of redeeming something that from one slight slip up would have been lost to eternity, consigned to the bottomless pit. Okay. This is why it’s so important we don’t call people names.

Opening a burn ward

“but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” (Matthew 5:22c)

Amazing. The words we speak have the same creative power as “Our Father who art in Heaven”. If it follows that we’re His children, then the least we could do is keep our mouth shut until we have something nice to say. Better yet, as Peter expresses “blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called that ye should inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:9) I rode through downtown tonight and came upon a skateboarder. He pushed off a few times on his longboard and then lost his balance (or rhythm, whatever) and had to jump off. I cycled past him and he said, kind of sheepishly “one too many pushes”.

“I hear ya” I told him.

He waited a moment and then answered with “Oh I know you hear me” and by this time (interesting, because I had my ear buds in and I was also listening to music) I had long passed him and was at the next intersection. I thought what I’d said was merely a figure of speech, one of understanding. Another of the phrases from my hip pocket–one I use regularly when I don’t really know what to say. I should add that I sensed he was embarrassed. I thought about rebutting what seemed to me to be a sting in his response but I chose not to. Nor did I answer with a blessing as Peter wrote. At least I didn’t call him a fool.

And this is where it gets serious. I find that some of Jesus’ statements read like metal on metal. Intended to cut and break and otherwise immediately tear down generations upon generations of wrong thinking about a subject. We certainly don’t like to be called names. Jesus says the unwise and unadvised spouting off of epithets that have no bearing on who God sees the person as, can land us in some pretty hot water. Check this out:

“Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” (Colossians 4:6)

Much better.