Jesus Mingled With People

Editor's Note: We apologise for the lateness in posting last week's commentary. The author provided the commentary in plenty of time, the fault is entirely the editor's, who would like to express their appreciation to Tami Cinquemani for her contribution.

June was a difficult month in Orlando. It began with the murder of The Voice singer Christina Grimmie and ended with the death of a 2-year-old boy from Nebraska who was killed by an alligator. However, the greatest impact came with the mass shooting of 49 victims at the Pulse, a LGBTQ nightclub in downtown Orlando. Our community was in shock—grieving and seeking answers to such senseless loss.

Churches throughout the Central Florida area offered support, counselling, and facilities. Christ Church in Orlando, just five doors down from the Pulse, became a hub for police and FBI. Their doors were open 24/7, offering food, water, and air-conditioned space to work and rest. The Christian community reached out to participate in the grief.

“Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!” Romans 12:15-16

Jesus was clear in word and example that those claiming his name would be known as servants and lovers of their community, sharing mercy and seeking justice. It seems plain and simple in the face of such tragic circumstances, and the faith community in Orlando stepped up. The church became the Church.

Jesus cared for those in crisis, but he also regularly mingled and shared life with those whom the religious considered unworthy—the “greater sinners.” This was not accepted by the religious leaders, and they condemned him.

Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”

When Jesus heard this, he said, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” Then he added, “Now go and learn the meaning of this Scripture: ‘I want you to show mercy, not offer sacrifices.’For I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” Matthew 9:10-13

Jesus’ words were direct. Those placing themselves in the position of judge and jury were ignorant of the true meaning of Scripture and had used it as a manipulative club rather than the grace-filled story of God’s love for his children. Jesus chose to mingle with his community and showed neither partiality nor fear of somehow compromising God’s character. Since that was the case, it was no surprise when he was called upon during a crisis by those with whom he had made relationships.

Christ's method alone will give true success in reaching the people. The Saviour mingled with men as one who desired their good. He showed His sympathy for them, ministered to their needs, and won their confidence. Then He bade them, ‘Follow Me.’"MH, 143

I wonder if it isn’t more of a challenge—but more essential—that Christians take seriously Christ’s call to love, accept, mingle with, and care for their community when times are normal and without crisis. Were we taking this commission seriously and sharing life on a regular basis with those in our community, would it not be the natural thing for them to look eagerly toward us for support when a crisis arose?

But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”Mark 10:43-45

For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”Galatians 5:14

Sadly, such was not the case in Orlando—at least not for those connected to the Pulse shooting. At best, offers of help from Christians were met with surprise, at worse suspicion and disdain. Unfortunately, the LGBTQ community was used to being viewed by Christians as the “greater sinners.” They knew the judgmental language and the carefully chosen Scriptures that had been used as weapons long before the gunman entered their club.

Condemn us out of one side of their mouth and "love" us once we're dead. NO THANKS.

I hope no one will take them up on their offer. I have a bad feeling like it's a trap as well. Getting those people in there to try to force them into ‘repenting’ while they are at their most vulnerable.

These are actual comments[1] in response to churches offering their facilities for funeral services for victims of the shooting. Cynical? Maybe, but who can blame them? Though there are a growing number of churches working out this conversation with their community as a whole, many still maintain an “us and them” mentality. In doing so, they avoid integral members of the community they condemn as unqualified for access into the body of believers.

Where would those marginalized before the shooting have experienced the love, the acceptance, the encouragement, or the absence of name-calling from these congregations? When did these churches mingle with the community as a whole without some hidden agenda?

This problem is not new. The Bible details a history of God’s people jealously keeping “the others,” those they consider unworthy of God’s grace, outside of their “club.” But is that really our job? Or is our job simply to love?

Jesus replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:37-40

Christ was born as Emmanuel, God with Us, so we could get a clear understanding of Who God is. (Isaiah 7:14) and what it would look like for Him to mingle with humanity. Where the religious leaders of his day, as well as those of our day, get caught up in bits and pieces of Scripture – proof text verses here and there – Jesus understood the Bible was meant to be understood as a whole, and he lived that complete story of God’s extravagant love, grace, and redemption.

In my perfect world, this terrible tragedy can be redeemed as the first step in making a holy change. Maybe if the Christians in Orlando become an example of setting aside the misguided religious weapons, silencing the marginalizing labels, and breaking down the un-Christ-like barriers, our communities will begin to experience the touch of Jesus and look forward to mingling with us on a regular basis, in the good times as well as the bad.

Tami Cinquemani

Worship Pastor

Florida Hospital Church

Orlando, FL


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/7589
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Tami. Thank you for such a well stated perspective. Indeed, according to Luke, Christ announced the gospel commission in Luke 4:18-19 and spend his entire gospel narrative unpacking these two verses. So when Matthew gives his commission to “teach them to observe all that I have commanded you.” the reference is not about 28 fundamental beliefs but the words an actions of Christ.

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The 28 fundamental beliefs are anchored in the word of God. (Hence the several scripture references that accompany each one.) An honest observer would admit that almost all of the 28 are very common to all Protestant churches. Different denominations have a few that vary. Not a big deal…variety lets individuals think for themselves and go where they feel comfortable worshiping with other believers.

God’s Moral Code never changes. That’s why it has always been shameful and a top tier offense for men to lie with men and women with women.

No matter how acceptable and encouraged it becomes in carnal societies.

That in no way means not to help a neighbor in need, like our brothers and sisters did in the Orlando area. That was a wonderful response. But it wouldn’t have been appropriate for a Christian to have been “mingling” in the Pulse nightclub at two or three A.M. while the drugs, alcohol, debauchery, etc were flowing.

I won’t go to a church that has homosexually active leadership! Of course, likewise, I would encourage you to find a church that suits your own convictions, Mark. If you don’t mind who your pastor is sharing a bed with, that is completely your business, not mine.

Maybe the summation of the Law is to love your neighbor as yourself, but that is hardly the summation of His guidelines for our lives. He says “go and sin no more” and “those who love me keep my commandments” and “be holy as I AM holy”.

At least we know, Kristen, that you are not going to pretend to be like Jesus.

Lord, have mercy.

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Thanks for this reflection on what Christ’s words mean, arising out of unspeakable tragedy. Don’t think I agree with all your perspectives, but valued the authentic response. God bless your ministry to the survivors and grieving.

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We dont read The Red Letter Words of Jesus often enough.
Also, Jesus was a Table Person. He found enjoyment being with “Sinners”. He was OK with breaking the established rules of association.
Jesus was NOT exclusionary. He included ALL in his circle. This included Revolutionaries. One was his disciple.
Remember – Jesus was HOLY. Jesus was GOD. He enjoyed hanging around Sinners, enjoyed their company, enjoyed their parties, their food, their music, their conversation.
Remember – Jesus was HOLY. Jesus was GOD. Sinners loved hanging around Jesus. Rich sinners. Religious sinners. Working sinners. Poor sinners. Disabled sinners. Women sinners. Child sinners. Pagan sinners. Agnostic sinners. Terrorist sinners. Roman soldier sinners. Wrong Church believer sinners. God’s True Church sinners.
Some say the Centurian’s “servant” was really also his BoyFriend. According to Matt Jesus was OK with this relationship. And spoke the word and he was healed. Then Jesus paid him a huge compliment in front of all the people.

On another note-- Mary and Martha. It is said that Martha was the MATURE person in the story.
Martha could Multi-Task. She could Work AND Listen at the same time.
Mary was the immature one. Could do only One thing at a time – so Listened. Eventually she became mature like Martha.
Thought that was an interesting perspective.

PS-- I know quite a few wonderful God Loving Christian Gays and Lesbians here in Macon and members of several churches. Actually, one is a Pastor, and his partner is an ordained Deacon [associate pastor role in another congregation]. They would make Wonderful SDAs, but, of course, I am NOT ALLOWED to invite them to become Seventh day Adventists. So I have to leave them where they are.

Pienso que hay que acercarse a la gente, no mezclarse con la gente. En un matiz importante. La lengua española es rica en vocabulario, matices y semántica. Creo que Cristo se acercó a la gente, a toda clase de personas sin distinción. Pero no se mezcló con ninguna de ellas. El cristiano tiene un mensaje y debe ir al encuentro de TODAS las personas para predicarlo. Pero evitando mezclarse, intoxicarse, de los pecados (errores) del mundo…

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