Who Would Jesus Hate?

This has been an insanely awesome and full week for me. A couple of weeks ago a friend of mine who is a Campus Youth Pastor asked me if I would emcee the annual youth week that our new church hosts.

The theme for the week is: Simple. The idea is that there are all manner of things that we do in our lives that we complicate that are, well, simple. They were sure to make the disticntion that simple does not mean easy. Merriam-Webster defines simple as: readily understood or performed. The reality is the actual prayer to "Accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior is, simple." The walking out of that commitment is anything other than easy. It is hard and it is complicated.

This leads me to the title of this post. As I think about the life of Jesus, I am struck that he did not hate people. He did not hate the Pharisees, even though those dudes seemed intent on killing him. Jesus did not hate Judas, even though ol' boy was, ya know, a Judas. A Benedict Arnold. A turn-coat. Jesus did not hate Pilate. He did not hate Mary Magdelene. He did not hate. He did not hate. He did not hate. For Jesus, it seemed very simple to not hate. For Jesus, it seemed natural to love. Natural to forgive and natural to include.

However, for present-day followers of The Way (including me) there seems to be that list of folks who are okay to hate. Okay to ostercize. It seems like we have taken the simple message of love and convoluted it. We build obstacles in the way of folks who are curious about this Jesus who they have heard was loving and inclusive. Passages from Matthew come into my mind when I think about all that we have done:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices — mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law — justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.” (Matthew 23:23-24);

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” (Matthew 23:13);

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.” (Matthew 23:15)

The reality that hits me like a ton of bricks, is that we have taken the simple message of Jesus and made it all so complicated. We have told groups of people, namely, LGBT, that God's simple love is complicated and is had by them with an asterisk. However, this is not true. God's love is not complicated; it is simple. God's grace is extended to all through the work and person of Jesus the Christ! God beckons us all to the table to find help and hope in our time of greatest need. The God who created folks within the LGBTQ community is passionate about them and all. He pursues us all with a deep, passionate and furious love.

Abba, may we live into the example of your love. May we mirror your heart. May we share hope with whomever is in need. May we explore and find an ever-increasing reality of your deep and furious love for us, Abba! May we ponder on this: Whom would Jesus hate?

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