The bible presents Jesus and the heavenly Father as our friend. Jesus stated in John 15:15, “I have called you friends.”
The bible also presents God as caring about the purpose and behavior of culture. The Psalmist stated in Psalms 110:6 that God judges the nations.
Perhaps there is another way to view the Gospel.
What if the message of Christianity is that God
is our personal friend who will judge the sins of culture.
When you walk through the Gospels with Jesus it is culture that Jesus judges. It was the culture of prejudice that Jesus was judging when he invited himself to Zacchaeus’s house for dinner. It was the culture of injustice Jesus was judging when he liberated the woman caught in adultery. It was the culture of greed and self-righteousness he was judging when Jesus turned the tables and ran the money changers out of the Temple. It was the culture of shame that Jesus was judging when he performed his first miracle and turned the water into wine. It was the culture of hate Jesus was judging when they came to arrest him in the garden and he healed the ear of a soldier. It was the culture of inequality when Jesus as a Rabbi embraced and welcomed women as disciples.
It has been my experience that often the Gospel is presented as God judging each of us personally for our sins and rarely is the Gospel present as God judging culture for its sin. I know there are verses in the Bible that refer to standing before God to give an account, so I’m not deny the idea of personal judgement. However, I need to consider the reason for personal judgement is because cultural sins are committed by individuals. What that looks like I don’t know, but I would like to think it is something like this:
God in his love and personal friendship hurts
when we are hurt and he stands against what hurts his friends.
What if God’s message in scripture is to present a culture where everyone is valued, respected, and treated with dignity. What if God’s message is more about cultural behavior and His desire for each of us to love one another as we love ourselves. If it is true that God loves us then it would stand to reason that he would stand against cultural behaviors and powers that hurt individuals.
God desires that you and I live holy lives. However, when we fall short of His desire that failure doesn’t anger God or make us an enemy of God. He loves us and wants the best for us which is why He sent the Holy Spirit to help us in our weakness. In our personal failures God has compassion and grace. When it comes to culture’s beliefs and behavior God can’t be so gracious when the culture hurts people.
I hope for a Church that would be the hope of the world, a Church where all people are welcomed and valued. A Church who would not stand against one another, but take a holy stand against a culture that hurts people.
There, I said it!