As Ash Wednesday rolls around, instead of giving up chocolate this Lenten season, why not make a commitment to give up being a jerk? Just think of the difference you and I can make in the communities that we participate in if we refuse to indulge in the negative mudslinging and political carping that has become the American way. What could happen if we were willing to act on Jesus’ directive to “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you”?
Yes, we must admit, we who sin are guilty of casting stones. Our self-righteous indignation and critical judgment of others does not honor God or build faith in the lives of people in our networks of influence.
The great Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi remained a devoted Hindu throughout his life even though he seriously considered the way of Jesus. His experience of the conduct of Christian missionaries in India and their general alliance with the politics of colonialism made him doubtful that their claims about Jesus had any unique claim to the truth. Gandhi could see the grave contradiction between the way Christians lived and spoke and the “law of love” he found in what he called the “true message of Jesus” found in the Sermon on the Mount.
The Christian writer Thomas Merton wrote: “Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy.”
Giving up being a jerk may be harder than giving up chocolate, but think of the difference it can make in your life as well as the lives of others around you.
Mike Slaughter is the almost four-decade chief dreamer and lead pastor of Ginghamsburg Church and the spiritual entrepreneur of ministry marketplace innovations. Mike’s call to "afflict the comfortable" challenges Christians to wrestle with God and their God-destinies. His newest book is The Christian Wallet: Spending, Giving, and Living with a Conscience (Westminster John Knox Press; January 27, 2016)