People Behaving Badly

When the Temple soldiers, led by their priests, arrested Jesus, Peter cut the ear off one of them. Peter was not aiming for the man’s ear. It is a wonder a soldier did not kill Peter on the spot. Rather Jesus told Peter to put away his sword. “Those who live by the sword die by the sword,” said Jesus.  Then Jesus touched and healed the wounded guard.

I am growing so weary of all the recent emphasis on people behaving badly. I confess I have guiltily enjoyed the public shame of the hypocrite on many occasions. I enjoy irony and take pride in feeling superior as I pass judgment on the haughty, even if I do not have all of the facts. I constantly have to confess my sin and pray for my own forgiveness. People have always and will always behave badly. We used to call it sin. So why are we so surprised at the latest reports?

We have moved into a time when one way to become a “celebrity” and make a lot of money is to behave badly in private and then have it revealed in public. That is the motive behind many of the sex scandals involving athletes, entertainment and music industry personalities, and “the rich and the useless,” which is what I like to call a certain daytime soap opera.  Greed, fame and the trappings of power are also interwoven into the shameful stories of the politicians, CEOs and religious leaders of our day. Manipulation, maliciousness, and money-raising are behind many of the unfortunate outbursts and ugliness demonstrated in the name of politics. The tone of this rhetoric is not Christian.

I am not scandalized when non-believers behave badly; it’s the religious who know better that bother me. Unbridled bigotry and anger lead to very bad things. Religious people, in the name of God, Allah or any other deity, who force politicians to act on their side only, tend to behave badly and dishonor their faith.  Look at Pilate. Look at the crowd that yelled “crucify him.” Look at Jesus, who brought civility, compassion, and a healing touch as his adversaries yelled “crucify him,” and He prayed, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Celebrate Easter.  And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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