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  • The Rev. Charles Smith

Let’s Get Them


We have been kind and patient long enough. The events of the past several months and the past several weeks have convinced me it really is time to go and get them.


You know who and what I am talking about. Yes?


You have ran across these people either in public or in the artificially created public spaces of the internet. There these people are operating and spreading their misinformation and hate for everything that is. You see them and hear them and know, deep down in your soul, that someone has to say something. Someone must finally stand up and get them.


You look around and don’t see someone stepping up. Maybe you are that someone?


You do it. You get the courage and you let it rip.


It feels good!


It feels really good!


Finally someone is going to speak some sense to them and they are going to hear it whether they want to or not. If you are fortunate enough to do this in a public place or better yet on social media it feels even better as the likes, shares, and re-tweets roll in.


Or perhaps, like me, you prefer to wait for someone else to stand up and speak the proverbial truth to power to the other side while you, quietly on the outside but loudly on the inside, celebrate the recent comeuppance of those people. It even feels really good just watching it finally happen.


There is something to this. When you see injustice perpetrated by people using their power and privledge to borrow language from friends on the left it feels really good to stand up to that and start to make a few things right. To borrow language from my friends on the right when people are trying to discard law and order and the culture that has shaped you and everyone you know it feels really good to stand up and start to reclaim the good things about our shared heritage.


It is a good thing to step forward and defend what is good in this world. It is a holy thing. It is a good thing to step forward and defend those whose voices are marginalized. It is a holy thing.


It is not a good a holy thing to give into the desire "to get them" and to finally give people what they have got coming to them. To do this is to fundamentally misunderstand who Jesus is and what his saving work is all about. To do this is quite simply to preach an anti-gospel of self aggrandizement and hate disguised in language of "doing what is right?”


If Jesus came to go get people and give them what they have coming to them then everyone, all of us, just go to hell for the myriad of ways we fall short of deserving God’s love. BUT that is not how Jesus works. Jesus does not come to damn people. Jesus comes that people might be spared and return to friendship with God.


There are people littered through history from the prophet Jonah to the Disciple Judas Iscariot, who betrayed our Lord to the Romans, to those modern day would be prophets encouraging us to go get them and feel good about it who preach a false gospel of going to get them because it feels so good and is so easy to sell to people.


Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh because if represented everything he hated. It was a large powerful city and a seat of power for the Assyrian Empire, the neighbors just to the north who regularly abused and threatened Jonah’s people. Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh because he feared that in going to get them they might actually hear God's call to repentance and get what God wanted for them and thereby be spared ruin and destruction.


Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus because he was afraid that the Romans and others might hear Jesus' call to repentance and actually get what Jesus wanted for them and thereby be spared ruin and destruction.


Today there are new leaders and so-called Christians who would ask you to give into the same base desire to go get them and to make them pay what they have done to all of us. They encourage this because it gives them power and wealth. They encourage this because it feels so good and is easy to sell. They do this because someone else before them sold them this same false good news.


But whoever the "them" is and whatever their real or imagined transgressions are they are not so bad as to put them beyond God's love and grace. As we read in Job the Lord despises nothing he has made, or as the prophet Ezekiel reminds us the Lord desires not the death of sinners no matter how bad they are.


This is the hard and yet hopeful thing about following Jesus. Standing up against injustice, oppression, hatred, bigotry, and all of the of the bad things people do that we collectively call sin is a good and holy thing. But if you are going to do that in Jesus' name or as a person who claims the mantle of Christian you must strive to hate the sin and LOVE the Sinner because hate and going to get them are not Christian values.


You must in the same breath condemn the wrongful sinful actions of people and embrace that sinful person with love as a fellow sinful person in need of Jesus' love and saving. This Christian version of going to get them still calls out behavior and actions that are beyond the pale and damaging but you go to get them with love in the prayerful hope they will repent and return to the Lord and not with the feel so good malice that dominates our culture.


So when you see that special someone who is really asking for it and no one else is stepping into the bread quite possibly God has indeed put you there in just the moment to go and get them. By all means go get them just be sure that the going and the getting is bringing them back to Jesus and not just tearing them down for your own pleasure.


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