Earle D. Treptow
For the tidy sum of $5 million, Airbnb purchased 30 seconds of airtime during the Super Bowl. In the commercial, the founders of Airbnb concisely stated their position: “We believe no matter who you are, where you’re from, who you love, or who you worship, we all belong. The world is more beautiful the more you accept.”
I considered it a thinly-veiled accusation: “If you speak up for marriage as God designed it or confess that Jesus Christ is the world’s only Savior, you make this an ugly world.” The commercial struck me as a not-so-subtle request to shut my Christian mouth. I quickly dismissed the commercial as anti-Christian. I don’t need to listen to people like that.
But I thought of my own bias and the way I treat others. About two minutes into an honest examination, I could identify a host of unaccepting words, unloving attitudes, and unkind actions. I realized that we regularly operate with a double standard. We forgive our own foibles readily, yet quickly give demerits to others.
Practiced in this skill, we have no problem rushing to judge strangers, especially those who show themselves strange and different to our way of thinking. In effect, we claim ourselves superior. We declare them unworthy of our respect and undeserving of the hard work involved in seeking to understand or serve them.
Jesus could have played the superior card with everyone he met. Successfully! But Jesus didn’t distance himself from those whose lives and thinking were a mess. Instead, he had compassion on them. He spent time with them and listened to them. And then he was judged: “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2). He welcomed sinners eagerly, wanting to serve them in love. Love moved him to speak to them privately about their sin, not to show himself superior but to call them to repentance. He invited them to confess their sin, to find in him their righteousness, and to change the direction of their lives.
Let’s not bother playing the superior card. The people around us don’t need our “I would never do such a thing” arrogance. They don’t benefit in the least when we speak dismissively about the way they think or live. Neither do we, for that matter! People around us need Christ and his love, not our handy labels or our disdain. If you insist on labeling people, then use this one instead: an individual for whom Jesus shed his blood.
Jesus offered himself as the atoning sacrifice for those whose lives are a mess and whose thinking doesn’t line up with what God teaches in his Word. That means he died for individuals actively engaging in homosexual relationships, for people who mock Christians as out-of-touch, and for those who dismiss the idea of Christ being the only way to eternal life. That means he died even for, of all people, us.
It turns out that we’re no better than anyone else. We’re beggars who live only by the righteousness of Another. We humbly speak God’s Word to others. We do so, not primarily to make this world more beautiful, but so that many might enjoy life in the far more beautiful world God has prepared for all who trust in Christ.
Contributing editor Earle Treptow, a professor at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary, Mequon, Wisconsin, is a member at Calvary, Thiensville, Wisconsin.
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Author: Earle D. Treptow
Volume 104, Number 5
Issue: May 2017
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