The road to hell is paved with good intentions

Published 8:54 am Friday, February 9, 2018

It has often been said, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” The context of this quote is referring to those who intend to get right with God but never make a decision for Christ. However, I think this quote can also relate to a different perspective. What if the road to hell is paved with the good intentions of passive Christians that fail to activate their faith and stand up for the defenseless, the lost, and the hurting?
From a Birmingham jail in 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. wrote, “First, I must confess that over the last few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action’; who paternalistically feels he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by the myth of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait until a ‘more convenient season.’”
I believe Jesus would call those who would prefer the absence of tension (“negative peace”) peace keepers rather than peace makers. Matthew 5:3-11 reads, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.”
Jesus offers this sermon to turn society and the norms of His time upside down. Blessed are the poor, the meek, and the peace makers. We find that the Kingdom of God is built around the weak and lowly rather than the strong and privileged. We even find that Jesus, the perfect Son of God, left His privilege in heaven to become an advocate and a friend to those who were and are poor, oppressed, and hurting.
Jesus was a peace maker and not a peace keeper. Peace keepers often will ignore controversy and conflict, even at the expense of others, in order to keep an artificial sense of harmony in their lives. On the other hand, peace makers are those that will befriend conflicts and struggles to achieve justice and unity amongst all of God’s children. Although many of us enjoy our comfortable middle-class American lifestyles, we must remember that there are still people in the world that are hurting and in need of advocates to defend them. Rather than avoiding these difficult issues, we should confront them with hands ready for work, hearts saturated with love, and minds filled will peace.
Jesus, who did not share our sinful nature, became sin so that we might be set free. In the same way, we must live in the foxholes and trenches of poverty, racism, sexism, prejudice, and church division even if we are not personally responsible for any of these injustices. We must use the material, intellectual, and spiritual gifts that God has granted to us for the liberation of those who are oppressed in this world.
The road to hell is paved with the good intentions of the white moderate, the male moderate, the rich moderate, and the Christian moderate. We intend to fight for others as God has fought for us, but their cries are often ignored. Christ isn’t asking us to change the world by ourselves. Rather, He is asking us to change the people around us that are hurting and broken. He is asking us to love people of color, objectified women, the poor, the depressed, the mentally ill, the incarcerated, the enslaved, and most importantly, the sinner that has yet to accept God’s grace. God hears the cries and laments of the hurting, but do you? Don’t ignore the pain of others so that you may keep peace in your life. Instead, go and make peace in a world, in a country, and in a county that is in desperate need of Christ-like advocates.
(The Solution Column is provided by Pastor Brandon Young of Harmony Free Will Baptist Church and his associate, Hunter Greene.)

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