by John Fischer
What Jesus said: “Whoever is not against us is for us” (Mark 9:39). Or: Unless a person is an outright proclaimed enemy of the gospel, he can be considered a friend. That means there are lots of friends out there waiting to be claimed.
What it seems like we heard: “Whoever is not for us is against us.” Or in other words, anyone who is not one of us is our enemy. That would mean the world is populated mostly with our foes.
These are actually statements of differing worldviews. How you think about the world determines which reality is true for you. Personally, I like the worldview where I assume friendship instead of anticipating enmity.
I think as Christians in this culture, we have made lots of enemies we didn’t have to make. We have drawn lines in the sand that were not there in the first place, and accused people on the other side of the line for the crime of being over there when we drew it. (We never gave them a chance, in other words.) It’s almost as if we have had to create and maintain a good supply of enemies in order to fulfill this self-proclaimed animosity with the world that incorrectly defines us.
This is not a good way to behave when representing the God of second chances—the God who, if He had not been abundantly gracious would never have called us His friends, and would never have given us even a first chance. I think it best to assume there are a lot of friends of God out there, just waiting to be found.
The writer of Hebrews wrote: “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2). That’s truly giving the benefit of a doubt to those who are not “of us.” It’s a good place to begin.
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