Notes about the “Bad Man in Everyone”

Now that the Gosnell trial is over, how ought we as Christians think about the whole mess?  Here’s something to spark your thinking…  One of my seminary professors had a sobering reminder.

QUOTE: …as disgusted as I feel toward men like Gosnell, I try to feel just as disgusted at the greed, lust, anger, hatred, falsehood, and selfishness lurking inside me, and all too often, oozing to the surface. For in the end, it’s not only Gosnell who must stand before the judgment seat of God. So must we all.

Answer: Amen!

But that’s not the end of the story.  Christ died for “bad men” like Gosnell and like me – and we dare not in the sight of God seek to distnguish between the two.

Jesus took our punishment upon His shoulders.  And when we stand before the judgment seat, we are given to agree with the just verdict of the almighty judge for our sin and point to Jesus as our Savior.

At the same time, Jesus forgiving me does not fix the problem I created for my neighbor.  It does not make up for the pain, suffering, anguish and sorrow I have caused to people in this world by my actions.  And shame on me if I presume place that also upon Jesus’ shoulders – forcing Him to deal with it when He has already given me the command, “love your neighbor as yourself”.

Even under the old covenant of Israel, where God commanded the sacrifice of goats, and lambs and bulls to atone for sin (pointing forward to the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross), the people were required to make restitution when they wronged others.  The sacrifice didn’t fix everything.  They were required to make it right with their neighbor – to restore their neighbor to the position they were before the offense occurred (or better!).

I, for one, am glad Gosnell will not be executed.  A dead man cannot right his wrongs.  My prayer is that the horrors of his actions will catch up with him and someone will be there to share the peace of Christ with him when that happens.  At the same time, I don’t think he should be allowed to sit on his duff in a cell lit at the expense of taxpayers reading books paid for by taxpayer money, eating food paid bought by those he wronged, having his laundry washed at the expense of a society he robbed.  Let him think about his crimes against humanity as he works (forced if necessary) to benefit humanity with his remaining days.  His sitting and rotting in prison does nobody any good.  Worse, it permits him to continue to rob from humanity by forcing society to support him.

But what about us?  Jesus said, “Whatever you did for the least of these, you did for me.”  and “Whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me.” (Matthew 25:31ff)  If we simply “plead the blood” of Jesus and go on our merry way, we rob from humanity by allowing the pain and suffering to continue in the wake of our sin.  How will we answer for accepting Christ’s forgiveness freely given but refusing to love and be concerned for our neighbor whom we have harmed and whom Christ has put before us to love and serve?

Much better to receive Christ’s forgiveness and then seek to love and restore our neighbor to the position they had before we had harmed them.  While our salvation doesn’t depend on it, our neighbor still needs it.

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