Have you ever seen one of these bumper stickers? I’ll admit that they tend to bristle me because of there seems to be an underlying message of “everybody is right, nobody is wrong,” which is blatantly unbiblical. However, there’s a pretty strong Biblical truth right there on the surface level: coexistence.
Coexist. To exist together, be together, live together. Again, this seems unbiblical, as God is the one and only God and will tolerate no substitute, as nothing is equal to him. Also, to say another God is real is to say God is wrong or lying, which, obviously, is sin. How can Godliness and sin live together?
That’s a good question. Let’s ask Jesus.
Jesus coexisted his entire life. He grew up under Roman rule, which did not acknowledge God. He also lived under the Jewish court, which worshiped itself as well as God. And if that wasn’t enough, Jesus voluntarily made friends with swindlers (Zacchaeus, Luke 9:1-10), cheaters (the adulterous woman, John 8:1-11), and traitors (Judas).
The Jewish rules of the day (the top religious leaders) had a policy of staying away from anybody who wasn’t Jewish. You didn’t touch sick people because it made you unclean. Non-Jews were not allowed into the temple of God. Sinners were over there and the righteous were over here. Now, these had all stemmed from actual, Godly instruction, as found in the Torah. The problem was that they “missed the forest for the trees” as they say. They were so stuck on legalism, they lost the ability to properly interpret scripture.
And what good did those hyper-religious people do? None. Oh, sure, it may have educated Jews and helped them, which was good, but it kept the world at a distance.
Jesus would have none of that. He talked with them, touched them, ate with them, and he had no shame at all. Why? Love. This is the beauty of Jesus: he showed that although he was higher and greater than all people, God was willing to humble himself just to be with us. We couldn’t go to Him, so He came to us.
As Jesus showed, this is the single most effective evangelistic tool: coexistence. You can’t save anybody from a distance. Why not?
- If this is the limit to your love, that you can’t even approach a non-believer, how can they believe God’s love is any greater?
- At a distance, you shout. When near, you speak.
- When you’re closer to somebody, it’s easier to hear them.
- You can only help somebody get on their feet if you’re within arm’s reach.
Walk alongside the unbelievers. Be friends with them, socialize with them, invite them to your home. It’s hard to show people the love of Christ if you don’t show them that love through yourself. Do life with people. Over time, they will see God working in you. Your loyalty, kindness, and love will not go unnoticed.
It’s true, it may not be appreciated. You may still be yelled at, insulted, betrayed, and even hated. What do you do then?
That’s a good question. Let’s ask Jesus.
“Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) Jesus said this upon the cross. He offered his unconditional love, the true love of God the Father. And they killed him for it, a slow, torturous, ridiculing death.
You think he didn’t know? Jesus foresaw this exact scenario and spoke about it many times (Mark 9:31, 10:33, and Luke 22:21 to cite a few). He knew they’d repay his olive branch with a sword.
But He did it anyway.
Why? It’ll say it again: love. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” -John 3:16.
God loved us so much that he descended to our level. He got down and dirty with us. He allowed himself to be mocked when he could have stricken his mockers with lightning. He allowed himself to be captured when he could have summoned a legion of angels (Matthew 26:52-53). He allowed himself to die instead of making us do it, as we, by God’s own law, should have done.
So why shouldn’t we, as Christians, literally “Followers of Christ,” do the same? Love, for you have been loved. Walk with the sinful, for He walked with us. Coexist with the world, for he coexisted with us. He did not succumb to the world, His death was his own design. He did not compromise or forfeit his relationship with God. He didn’t say everybody was right and nobody was wrong–in fact, he knew we were wrong.
But he simply could not endure being so far away.