Receiving only half of the truth destroys relationships and people.
Jesus’ ministry in Galilee was thriving as a result of His teaching and miracles. It came time for His ministry to move to Jerusalem.
Jesus sent messengers ahead to prepare for crowds to meet Him along the way and hear the good news of His kingdom.
The shortest route to Jerusalem went through Samaria. Jews usually took a path around Samaria to avoid contact with the Samaritans. Samaritans and Jews held each other in contempt.
Jesus had chosen to pass through Samaria planning for at least one speaking engagement in a village along the way. A report came back from Jesus’ messengers that the village people weren’t going to welcome Jesus, because He was a Jew going to Jerusalem.
A few thousand years earlier, the ancestors of the Jews and Samaritans pitched their tents alongside each other and worshipped together around God’s tabernacle. They were the children of Israel, sons and daughters of Jacob and his wives Rachel and Leah. They were God’s chosen people.
Over time, difficult times and disputes over disagreements put distance between God’s people. They set themselves up against each other.
Each group considered their group to be guardians of God’s true religion.
They built walls instead of bridges.
In their disputes each claimed to hold the deed on the only place to worship the one, true God. For the Jews it was Jerusalem. For the Samaritans it was Mt. Garizim.
In their zeal for protecting what each considered to be the truth, Jews and Samaritans looked at each other as enemies.
A person who receives truth and then embraces contempt for other people is only receiving half the truth.
The Jews and Samaritans had much in common. But the more they focused on their differences, the more they despised and hated each other.
This hatred became so much part of the culture, James and John didn’t hesitate to offer a harsh rebuttal to the Samaritan villagers who rejected a visit from Jesus.
“When James and John saw this, they said to Jesus, ‘Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up?’” Luke 9:54 NLT
Many people experience their Christian journey as an intellectual exercise. Their objective is to learn every fact from the Bible and defend those facts against any and all enemies.
James and John were convicted by the facts that Jesus was the Son of God. Only a few days earlier they saw and heard evidence of this when they saw Jesus meet with Moses and Elijah and heard God’s voice proclaim Jesus as His Son.
In their conviction, James and John felt deeply the injustice of the Samaritans who refused to show respect to the Son of God.
Their response: Burn them up!
Jesus rebuked James and John.
Don’t judge James and John too quickly. It’s possible you’ve deserved a similar rebuke from Jesus.
It’s very easy for us to become zealous for the truth. In our passion for right over wrong our personal convictions can become very strong.
Our convictions can become so strong that it seems the best response to a flagrant disregard for the truth is to eliminate the opposition.
This is the danger: Conviction without compassion leads to a mindset that justifies killing people in God’s name.
There is an opposite danger: Compassion without conviction excuses sin.
The Truth of God’s Word is different from any other “truth.”
Jesus is the Truth.
Jesus is the image of God in human form, displaying perfectly God’s character of conviction and compassion.
It’s possible to be right and unrighteous. When that happens, we’ve only received a half-truth.
God is both right and righteous, as demonstrated by Jesus becoming sin for us that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
The Truth of Jesus produces in us a perfect blend of conviction and compassion. When surrendered to, the Truth transforms us into people who reflect Jesus and shine His light into the world.
If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see? (1 John 4:20 NLT)