***** Trigger warning, this piece contains situations that may not be suitable for readers who have experienced trauma. It is with greatest LOVE that I extend for you to please read at your own risk and only if you believe you will be encouraged. The message becomes somewhat dark toward the end. However, I decided that the overall message was important enough to publish. Thank you!
John chapter 11:35
Why did Jesus weep in this passage of scripture?
Was it because someone had sinned?
Was it due to a deep injustice?
Was it because of selfish motivation?
No. It was due to his empathy for another human being’s emotional pain. Martha and Mary’s sadness over the death of Lazarus. It is said that Jesus too loved Lazarus.
Most of us know what this type of emotional upheaval feels like. That sting of emotional pain from losing a loved one, rejection, or abandoment… Everyone has felt it at some point.
Mark 12 vs. 31
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
This may seem so simple. We throw around the word ‘love’ like we throw candy at parades to children. Yet, I know that personally showing the type of love Jesus expects us to have can often come AFTER we have “unpacked” our own personal beliefs on individuals or situations.
Many Christians view sin as a topic of acts of wrongdoing for example, lust, greed, sexual immorality, laziness, murder the list can go on. But as Christians how often are we examining our ability to love others without regard to their individual personality, lifestyle choices, or circumstances as carefully as we are deciding what amount of love our neighbor is due. I’m guilty of it.
Love thy neighbor is what Jesus states is the second most important commandment, falling right behind loving God. Could looking at that inversely imply that a lack of LOVE for our neighbor ranks right up there with not loving the Father himself.
Mark 3:4-6King James Version (KJV)
4 And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace.
5 And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.
6 And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him.
I wonder if, Jesus’ anger in this situation he wept as well? Maybe. The Word specifically states that he grieved the hardness of the Pharisees hearts. Those who were not showing empathy to the pain and suffering of a neighbor. As Christians are we promoting the type of love that creates an atmosphere where neighbors grieve together no matter their specific circumstances of that day?
The shortest verse in the bible. Yet anyone living can identify with it. We live in turbulent times. Maybe it’s been that way since the dawn of time. I often wonder if Jesus was walking earth today how he would feel about our cultures ability to look the other way when we see other in anguish? Folks, we live in a cultural plague of that attitude right here in the bible belt. Right here in our Christian nation.
I hate to admit this… but friends, I am afraid to invite vulnerable people to church with me at times. Depending on where they are in their journey….I fear that topics that are the most controversial and “hot” for the time take over the pulpits in ways that do not promote the love of Jesus. There are so many ugly and evil things in this world. I’ve worked with all types of different people with varying backgrounds and circumstances, many who seek the comforting LOVE that Jesus directed his followers to show.
When I sit in a church and listen to a sermon that speaks about abortion, I remember the young woman who was raped by her uncle, whose grandmother insisted she abort the child and protect the uncle. I know if she were sitting with me, she would unquestionably collapse in tears, panic, and shame that she lives with already everyday.
When I hear a sermon about same-sex relationships I think of all the young men and women who have sought refuge at our local shelter after they have been ridiculed by their families, some beaten, in the name of “Christianity”. The sting of the hateful words they have heard from bullies will ring once again in their heads through the voice of the speaker.
Finally, when I hear sermons dedicated to raising awareness about sexual immorality or promiscuity, I remember the young woman I’ve met whose body was sold as young as five years old. Who fights daily with the terror of the fault she has always claimed although to those who haven’t experienced it, we have no idea.
A number of other things may trigger panic as well: those who have been divorced, especially if abuse was present, those who were physically abused as children in the name of religion, those who suffer from addictions from any given substance. It is grief, fear, shame and guilt which leads people to not seek assurance from their neighbors.
The trauma that people face in our world is just as real as it was two thousand years ago. That, is why I believe Jesus taught love. Too many people are suffering abuse and trauma in the name of religion, and in my opinion, it isn’t even what our Savior promoted. Our hearts become hardened to what we are most comfortable with, and we try to justify those things with religion.
Do we need to completely ignore what the bible says about how to live…. No. I’m not suggesting that. But I am suggesting this… anyone who seeks to understand the Word has the ability to search for themselves, or be guided by a person of their choice in their time., and decide how to apply it to their daily lives…
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed–not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence–continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,
May I ask this…. can we try to remember… Jesus Wept? The Savior! He felt and wept… just like we all do. Some individuals spend a great deal more time in suffering from unspeakable circumstances than others. When adressing a group of people or an individual, remember… we all feel, we all weep. Above all. Do no harm.
The following poem seemed fitting for these thoughts. As 2016 closes looking ahead to 2017, I’m going to spend extra reflection on my attitudes and willingly to show love to my neighbors.