Monday, April 25, 2011

Gangsters--What Would Jesus Do?

Post 34--

The basic message of the Bible is about love, forgiveness and reconciliation. It is possible that you do not detect much of that spirit in the past few posts. I seem rather harsh and unforgiving. Though the above concerns are indeed dominant in the Bible, there are also subconcerns that betray a different spirit. These subconcerns are directed at people who represent the opposite of the dominant spirit and work against it; against oppressors of the people.

John the Baptist

When Jewish religious leaders came to John the Baptist, he berated them with all the harshness he could muster. Of course, neither he nor Jesus were invested with official power and thus had to restrict themselves to the power they had, which was one of warning and castigating. “You brood of vipers,” John yelled at them and threatened that “the ax is already at the root of the trees…” (Matthew 3:7, 10; Luke 3:7-9).


Jesus blasted those leaders time and again for putting an impossible load on the shoulders of the people that they themselves were “not willing to lift a finger to move them.” Jesus’ preferred name for them was “hypocrites”—“you shut the kingdom of heaven in man’s faces. You yourselves do not enter…” (Matthew 23:4, 13-14; Luke 11:46). Like Canadian gangsters, Jesus accused these leaders of traveling “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.” Upon them “will come all the righteous blood” they have caused to flow (Matthew 23:15, 35). He cursed those who did not take pity on the poor and helpless and assigned them to “the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41, 46). He accused religious leaders of devouring “widows’ houses” and warned that “such men will be punished most severely” (Mark 14:40; Luke 20:47). He pronounced “Woe” on the well-fed (Luke 6:24-25), and that allegedly includes gangsters. His “Woes” are scary and not to be ignored. Jesus did not leave it with mere words. One time he violently overturned the tables of merchants in the temple and drove them out, probably with a whip (Mark 11:15-17). And all of that from a Jesus who describes Himself as “gentle and humble in heart” (Matthew 11:29)—“meek,” according to the old King James.

Compared to Jesus

Yes, meek under most circumstances, gentle and humble. Love and compassion personified. But when it came to the high and mighty who oppressed the people, he reserved nothing but scorn and threats of the worst future imaginable. Hell, even. Rejection by and separation from God Himself. Compared to that, you must admit that I am pretty mild comparatively when it comes to gangsters. I do not threaten them with hell. I do not demand capital punishment, but if they insist on divvying that out amongst themselves, I suggest we give them the space for it. Instead of imprisonment, I prefer having them tethered in homes. Out of the box? Yes. Cruel? Compared to Jesus, I am a wimp with my proposals!

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