We are living in very unique and perilous times. Troubling events are occurring all over the world, in the nation and even locally, exposing the inconsistencies, hypocrisy and wickedness of the day in which we live. For the believer, these things serve as a reminder of just how far away mankind has strayed from God and His commandments. In fact upon closer inspection, not only do current developments expose the wickedness of the world, but things have also been exposing the flaws within the Body.
For example, when Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast years ago, too many of God’s people were quick to conclude that the flooding of New Orleans and the catastrophe that it created was God’s judgment upon a wicked city. No one is denying the presence of wickedness in New Orleans but let’s also consider that New York, Chicago and Los Angeles are wicked cities as well. While we’re at it, let’s consider that places like Crestview, FL, Keystone, SD, or Cleveland, TN also harbor wickedness. The point is that wickedness can be found in every city, town and village throughout the land and that believers, at times, are quick to heap condemnation upon those we deem as more guilty than others. Should it be that way? Let’s look at this particular passage:
“Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, ‘Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?’ But He turned and rebuked them, and said, ‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.’ And they went to another village.” (Luke 9:51-56)
Notice that even though the Samaritans rejected Him, Messiah wasn’t ready to destroy them. He didn’t heap condemnation on them but, to the contrary, wanted to save them. That is why He continued to set His face upon Jerusalem, knowing what awaited Him there. Going up to Jerusalem meant the suffering of crucifixion and the joy of the subsequent resurrection. He knew He had to remain focused upon His purpose in order to save the very people who were rejecting Him. On the other hand, some of His disciples were so incensed at these people’s response that they were ready them to death. Unfortunately, we sometimes see that same sentiment within the Body of Messiah. If we’re honest with ourselves, we have the tendency to relish the thought of the wicked being destroyed.
It is important for us to remember this: if we believe that judgment is at hand and God is preparing to reign down punishment upon the wicked, that means judgment upon God’s people is even closer. Peter wrote:
“For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17)
There’s no doubt that judgment is at hand, whether it’s in our lifetime or not we can’t say. But when it comes, it’s coming to us first. According to Peter, in consideration of the fact that the righteous are scarcely saved, what is to become of those who are unrighteous? Perhaps instead of being quick to condemn the wicked, we should be more concerned about their acknowledgment of the truth? Perhaps we should be more inclined to reach them with the Gospel. Instead of tearing them down, we need to lift up Messiah so that He might draw these people unto Him.
The condition of the world exposes its wickedness but can also expose the heart condition of God’s people. When we are quick to condemn we demonstrate what manner of spirit we are led by. If we are to err, should it not be on the side of mercy and compassion? Without a doubt, in the days ahead, all of us will all be in need of God’s mercy and compassion.