I was discussing matters with a friend tonight on how we treat different people groups. I started thinking then more about the scandal of Christ. I heard about a professor once at my old college who when asked about where Jesus would be if he came today replied, “He’d be in the old city during happy hour.”
I grew up in a society that was quite legalistic. Part of that is what led to intense depression when I was a teenager and which eventually got me into this field. I have since then become far more “scandalous” as some would say in my behavior. It is a practice of Christian liberty far greater than I had before.
Yet I thought that there are some people that today, I still sadly find myself looking down my nose at and sometimes thinking I’m much better than they are. There are some actions that I can still see people doing and just think “Well, if they’re Christians, they don’t take it seriously.” I’m still a work in progress.
Yet as I thought about this, I thought about the scandal that Christ would leave behind today. If Christ dwelt among us today, I am sure he would be absolutely shocking to the huge majority of us Christians. It is doubtful that many of us would recognize him if we saw the way he acted.
Why shouldn’t we be surprised? If you told a first-century Jew that YHWH was dwelling in their midst as a human, if he even accepted your claim, it is not likely that he would think that YHWH would be dining with prostitutes and tax collectors. Obviously, YHWH would be with the most holy among the people.
It must be said that when Christ dwelt among the people, he was not approving the sins that they committed. Christ dining with a prostitute is not an endorsement of prostitution. However, Christ had a unique love for the person who was the prostitute without endorsing what she did.
Christ would rock our world today like he did the world of first century Palestine then. When God comes and dwells in your midst, there is no telling what might happen. The things you might rack yourself with guilt over, he might embrace laughingly and tell you that you’ve been worrying about nothing. The things you consider innocent he might condemn as wicked.
What’s the solution then to being on the right side? It is to learn to walk as Jesus walked. It is in learning to enjoy that which God enjoys and love that which he loves. It is in realizing that all that you value is ultimately to find its focal point in him. Why value your spouse? Because relationality and sexuality and creation of life are good things. Where are those found? They are found in the nature of God.
King Solomon prayed at the dedication of the temple, “Will God dwell among men?” He did, and the world was not ready. Today though, we are his body, and we are to walk as he did. Let’s be sure that we are.