As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them, and they went to another village. (Luke 9:51–56, NIV 1984).
My Musings – Calling down fire to destroy them. A little overzealous, don’t you think, just because they were not welcomed? Serves the disciples right that Jesus rebuked them, right? We would never do something like that! Before we get too self-righteous in our condemnation of the disciples’ response, perhaps we ought to take a closer look at our own indignation towards those who criticize, ridicule or outright oppose our Christian faith. Our response might not be as blatant as the disciples, but who’s to say that the subtlety in how we respond is just as bad? Maybe even worse because we “dress it up?”
Reminds me a bit of this exchange in J.R.R Tolkien’s “Lord or the Rings” trilogy. Frodo: “It’s a pity Bilbo didn’t kill Gollum when he had the chance.” Gandalf: “Pity? It’s a pity that stayed Bilbo’s hand. Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them, Frodo? Do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. Even the very wise cannot see all ends. My heart tells me that Gollum has some part to play in it, for good or evil, before this is over. The pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many.”
My Advice – “Do not be too eager to deal out [condemnation] in judgment.” They stand condemned already. Our condemnation adds nothing. These unrighteous that we would respond to in kind, dressed-up as righteous indignation, are just “what some [all] of [us] were. But [we] were washed, [we] were sanctified, [we] were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:11, NIV 1984).
We were pitied and received God’s grace. And now there is no condemnation even though we were once condemned. Perhaps we should let pity stay our hand. Our pity might rule the fate of many we would otherwise condemn.