By NEMS Daily Journal
Moses didn’t negotiate with Pharaoh after God sent him to demand the release of his people. Even though scripture calls him “very meek,” Moses demanded to Egypt’s emperor, “Let my people go!”
Jeremiah didn’t seek consensus with the subjects of his prophecies. Instead, he plainly warned of God’s wrath over their sins.
Nowhere in the Sermon on the Mount is Jesus recorded as having said, “Blessed are the nice.”
The prophets called God’s people to repent of their sins and demanded justice from their oppressors.
Jesus spoke truth to both the corrupt religious leaders and others who benefited from their wickedness. Facing torturous execution, he reminded Pilate that the only power earthly rulers have is what God grants them for his own immutable purposes.
Jesus confronted people both powerful and powerless in their sins. He challenged them to change instead of leaving them flailing in their failings. In doing so, Jesus was more than not nice: By our sensitivities, he was sometimes downright rude.
In his earthly ministry, Jesus was the sacrificial Lamb of God, but he was also the Lion of Judah. Yet one of the standards held by many – professing believers and unbelievers alike – is that Christians are supposed to be, above all, nice.
C.S. Lewis destroyed the stereotype of a domesticated Jesus in “Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” when Mr. Tumnus says of Aslan, the metaphorical Jesus, “He is not a tame lion.” Lucy Pevensie responds (with awe, we imagine), “No, but he is good.”
Nice (or tame, if you will) doesn’t brave the perils of man and nature to tell tribesmen they’re killing their babies with contaminated drinking water. Good does, and shows them an alternative.
Nice doesn’t confront serial studs with the damage they’re doing to their children and then show them how to be a dad. Good does.
Nice doesn’t rescue a daughter or niece and promise to protect her – no matter what – from her violent ex. Good does.
Nice doesn’t take beatings or risk imprisonment and death to confront oppressors and bring about justice. Good does.
Nice doesn’t point out sin and then point to the source of forgiveness.
Paul Coughlin, in “No More Christian Nice Guy,” expounds: “The church told me to worry more about sin than purpose, more about keeping up appearances than searching for and embracing meaning. More about what I shouldn’t do than what I should do. More about being nice than being good. … ‘Nice’ can’t confront this world’s sources of pain, the way Jesus did and commanded us to do as well. Niceness makes people agreeable, not good.”
May God grant the wisdom to know the difference.