There’s much in this world worth annihilating. Pistachios. Iced coffee. TV shows starring the Kardashians. Tags in underwear. Tofu. And, seasonal allergies.
Then there’s real stuff that needs to die. Cancer. Alzheimer’s. AIDS. Homelessness and poverty.
Then there are those evils that can only be snuffed out by supernatural means (not that the other lists are immune to supernatural intervention). Racism. Genocide. Abuses of all kinds. Homophobia. Hate (in all its forms). And, untruths.
The problem: at best, we try to cure these heart “diseases” (the last list) with coercion. The Left yells at the Right. The Right yells at the Left. Christians bash the Gays. The Gays bash the Christians. Radical extremists murder the Innocent. The Innocent pray for the Radical Extremists’ deaths. CNN derides Fox News. Fox News derides CNN. We post our political rants on social media and dare others to refute our position. We love proving ourselves “right,” and we will destroy anyone who has the audacity to question our omniscience.
At worst, we don’t care about these heart “diseases,” because our self-centeredness has completely immunized us against them. We don’t empathize with anyone or anyone’s plight, because frankly, we’d rather think we’re right than think of someone else’s pain.
The cure: God-given gentleness. Dead in our trespasses and sins, we are consistently pro-self. Alive in Christ, we are utmost pro-God and then, pro-others, and lastly, pro-self. Dead in our trespasses and sins, we are hard, concerned for self, and we protect all we are because we are all that matters. Alive in Christ, we are gentle, concerned for God and others, and we give away all that we are because we are not the sun of our solar system.
There’s an interesting story about David in 1 Samuel 16:14-23. It begins, “Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the Lord tormented him.” Here’s what didn’t happen next: With spittle on his lip and wrath in his eyes, a fiery preacher pounded the pulpit and yelled, “Repent, sinner, repent!!” Nope. What happened next? A person intervened – a person with some amazing, God-given qualities. One of Saul’s servants said, “Behold, I have seen [David], who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him” (1 Sam. 16:18, emphasis added). So, David intervened with his sword drawn? Nope. With his sling in hand? Nope. A spear? No. With his Facebook account blazing? Not even close. “David came to Saul and entered his service” (1 Sam. 16:21). No self-centeredness. No proving himself right. No yelling. “And, whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him” (1 Sam. 16:23). David plucked gently on his harp, and the tormenting spirit was driven away by David’s gracious medley. The servant David who was “prudent in speech,” who had “a good presence,” and whom “the Lord was with” played away evil. David’s gentleness turned the tide of torment. His willingness to serve changed the situation for Saul.
The evils of racism, genocide, abuse, homophobia, hate, and untruths percolate in our hearts, and there is but one cure that can turn us from selfish to self-less.
Jesus died to kill racism. Jesus died to kill genocide. Jesus died to kill abuse. Jesus died to kill homophobia. Jesus died to kill hate. Jesus died to kill untruths, And, if your faith is in Jesus, then your old selfish self died with Jesus, and you have been spiritually resurrected as a new selfless self who is no longer shackled to hate and prejudice and lies (Romans 6:5-11).
All-powerful Jesus gently laid down his life on the cross. He did that without opening his mouth or without trying to prove himself right. The King of Kings laid aside his well-being to intervene as a servant who was and is determined to reverse the brokenness of all creation.
David intervened with gentleness, but ultimately, David fell short of eternal intervention for Saul. Jesus’ intervention is different. Like David, Jesus has intervened with gentle power. He died to himself. He lived for others. But unlike David, Christ’s intervention is eternal, free, and life-altering for anyone who would trust him.
Let us not be lured into coercion or apathy. But rather, let us be lured into gentleness by Jesus who “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant” (Phil. 2:6-7).
There is no quick fix for racism, homophobia, hate, or abuse, but there is an eternal One. May we always seek Him as our source of gentle power as we intervene in the midst of the brokenness for His glory and others’ good.