Expecting People to Change Before We Befriend Them

Do you expect people to change before you will associate with them? People often think that their husband/wife will change after marriage, but people in church often (usually?) say, “Change, and then you can join us.”

John (the disciple, apostle, writer of the Gospel) is an excellent writer. To call him “uneducated” is a slander. He just didn’t attend the “right school.” He packs so much into a story that we give it a disservice by reading it quickly.

The story about the man healed by the Pool of Bethesda that I discussed yesterday is such a story. The point of the story was to show that Jesus was the Son of God. The subpoint was that the Jewish religious establishment hated him and wanted to kill him.

Why such animosity? Because Jesus threatened their very way of life. He threatened their superiority. They had set themselves aside with the vocation of being good. The studied scriptures and laws all day and followed every law. They were good.

And, they said that if you’ll change and be good, then maybe you can be one of us.

Jesus said to people, follow me and then you’ll change.

Jesus told the man to get up, pick up his mat, go and sin no more.

Oops, that violated a law. It was the Sabbath. The Lord said, don’t work on the Sabbath. The lawyers had to define work. One of the many detailed what you could carry before it was considered work. This man violated that rule.

Do we react to people we meet in the way of the Pharisees? Instead of rejoicing, we look for reasons to disapprove. We tell people that if they become like us, then they can be our friends–maybe, instead of welcoming other people and leading them to a life in the Spirit.

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