The RHIMES & Compassionate Heart paths of following Jesus has always understood the heart of Jesus’ message to be one of justice and peace. Compassionate Heart was founded by Bishop Craig Bergland because he saw that institutional Christianity was disproportionately fixated on salvation, despite the fact that Jesus was primarily a wisdom and enlightenment teacher who worked for the full inclusion of all people in the life of society. He recognized that the great majority of Jesus’ teachings were essentially being ignored, and the focus on salvation – which is always a focus on self, not other – was in fact contrary to Jesus’ Great Commandment to love God with all of our heart, mind, and soul and to love our neighbor as ourself!
There is no denying it – the Christian Gospel is a gospel of social justice. What that means is that Jesus himself, while he walked on Earth, had a deep and abiding concern for the less fortunate, for the outcasts of his society, for the marginalized and excluded of his day. This section of our website will look at that reality by examining stories from the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John where Jesus reached out to those same people we just mentioned, refused to participate in their further exclusion from society, and in fact lovingly restored them to wholeness. To those who would exclude others, Jesus’ message was clear and direct – he told them they were far from God and the Kingdom of God, and indeed ran the risk of being excluded.
In Jesus’ day, as in our day, some of the loudest voices for the exclusion of certain races and classes, people in certain career fields, people who didn’t tow the official line on their belief and behavior, came from among the professional clergy. It’s interesting to note that, for all of the people brought before Jesus by the religious authorities of his day to be judged by Jesus, he never spoke harshly to any of them. In fact, the only people Jesus ever spoke harshly to were the very religious authorities who thought they were superior to others. It seems that religious people have not learned much over the last two thousand years from the very Gospel they claim to love.
Have you noticed that many of the people who are extremely critical of others are very angry? Even religious people, perhaps especially religious people, are often on the news outside an abortion clinic, or Planned Parenthood, or at a local Pridefest, acting in a very angry way and saying things that can’t honestly be described in any way other than hateful. Sometimes they are even so mad they are red-faced and screaming.
In his Sermon on the Mount, the best summary of Jesus’ teachings available, Jesus tells us to love our enemies and to pray for them. Love and hate can never exist in the same space at the same time.