Sunday, December 14, 2014

THE JESUS FAMILY

  As we come close to the celebration of Christmas some of us will once again get to read, in the Gospel of Luke chapter 1, Mary's praise to God for being told she will bear the Christ child.  This "Magnificat"carries with it an amazing revelation into the irony of how God has dealt with human beings; and Mary personalizes it for herself.  Her poem of praise is reminiscent of Hannah's praise to God in 1 Samuel chapter 2 after the birth of her son Samuel, a child she earnestly sought from God after being humiliated in her barrenness.

    I am not sure if any of us can fully appreciate these passages if we have never been on the bottom looking up.  One could attempt to spiritualize them and take application that in our sin we have all been on the bottom, all "losers" when it comes to righteousness.  That is true of all us certainly, but there is more in these passages. Hannah and Mary  are not speaking of deliverance from their sins.   They are speaking of the emotional power of deficit, about being "not enough" in terms of social acceptability or even financial means, and therefore possessing a brokenness from feeling they are not good enough compared to others.

    God does something amazing for them, and certainly through Mary God has done something amazing for the whole world.  Usually during the celebration of Christmas we move quickly from Mary's feelings to the historical miracle of the incarnation and the birth of Jesus, but maybe we should linger for a moment on how Mary thinks.

    One reason I think we should meditate on her expression of praise, or her thinking, has to do with the children she will raise.  Obviously some in Christendom don't think Mary had any more children after Jesus and that she is forever a virgin.  We in the Protestant tradition don't hold to that idea.  The reason I bring that up is that I find the comparison between the teachings of Jesus concerning the poor, and that of his brother James, along with their mother Mary very consistent.  It seems to me to be a fairly radical perspective on economic justice and the sovereignty of God.

    Mary obviously believes God can change the facts on the ground for both hungry people and for rich people.  He changes the realities of and for political rulers, and is mindful of the humble.  Hannah believed that those who are proud because they are strong, the well fed, and the mother with many children who despises the barren woman all will get their comeuppance.  The God she praises is able to lift up beggars to sit with princes, but He is also able to take wealth, and life, and military power away from others.

    Did this kind of thinking affect Jesus?  I would imagine some might think that because Jesus is the Son of God he doesn't need any nurturing or instructing from Mary.  Jesus is the one who teaches, not the one who is taught.  Certainly Jesus was teaching the elders at an early age, but the Bible does tell us he "grew in stature and in favor with God and man."  He learned obedience from the things he suffered.  It doesn't really matter to me how much we think Jesus needed to learn or not, the source of such revelation was the same, and that was from His Heavenly Father.  The same Father who taught Mary when she sang His praise.

    I see a pattern in the Jesus family of a certain way of thinking about money, about the rich, about the poor, and about the people on the bottom.  The self-understanding of Jesus is revealed when he reads from the scroll of Isaiah and said that on that day the prophecy was fulfilled in Him.  Specifically that the Anointed One was going to preach the Gospel to the poor.  This is his mission, it is his task, it is His priority.  We realize that this good news was comprehensive not just as a happy message of love from God through Jesus, but as the work of Jesus in His redemption.

    God has favor on the poor because the world doesn't.  God's favor on the poor doesn't mean he hates the wealthy, in fact the Scripture tells us that when Jesus looked on the rich young ruler He loved him.  What makes Jesus so radical, and even uncomfortable to all of us who let money be our idol, is that Jesus has no mercy on the grip of materialism.  Compassion pours out of him for the suffering, but so does condemnation on those who seek to hold onto their wealth.  The Gospel of Luke especially drips with the irony of the wealthy not having the edge when it comes to God and salvation.  

    Then we come to the brother of Jesus, the writer of the book of James, and as we say where I come from, "James don't play!"  He tells us what good religion is, its about taking care of widows and orphans as well as watching our mouths and the morality of our lives. 

     He very definitely tells us that God has "chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world" and he castigates those who insult the poor by preferring the rich who he describes as those who exploit "us."  His point here is to do away with favoritism, which is natural according to the book of Proverbs where it lets us know friends desert you when you are poor (nobody loves you when you're down and out) but they like you when you have money.  I see an application of this today in places where PCA churches are planted, where our favoritism passes by the neighborhoods of the poor so we can continue to plant churches among the middle class.

    I kind of like the idea that maybe in Mary's kitchen there were times when Jesus and James talked about money, and poverty, and faith.  Maybe during that discussion their cousin John (the Baptist) walked in and things really got going.  These people were not simply idealistic and revolutionary prophets for a change in the economic or political system.  Jesus is the Son of God, He is the one of whom Hannah spoke when she wrote of a God who makes poor and makes rich, who brings death and makes alive.

    Because Jesus is the sovereign God He has the right to call us on our divided hearts: We will either love money or we will love Him. He has the right to expose whether we give out of our surplus or whether we give all we have.  He has the right to call us to faith, and sacrifice, and to make purses for ourselves that will never wear out.  I think being in the Jesus family could make some of us feel pretty uncomfortable, but that is in fact the family we are now in, if we follow Christ.  What a blessing to be in it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

THE CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGE OF MYTHS ARISING FROM THE FACTS OF INJUSTICE

The U.S. Senate releases a report on the use of torture by the Central Intelligence Agency and we see division in the public response.  Some react by wishing the Senate had not released it, as it will give our enemies reason to intensify their hatred and use it to paint the U.S. as evil.   Some react by calling for prosecution of those involved.  Some react with dismay that such a thing happened in and through our own government and country.

    I was proud of the statements by Senator McCain, a man who himself was tortured while a prisoner in North Vietnam.  He seemed to get it right when he spoke of what should make us different as Americans.

    Myths are powerful things, whether for good or ill.  I don't use the word in the sense of "make believe" or fairy tale.  I use it in the sense of identity, what we think about ourselves and others.  When it comes to patriotism it is far more powerful when we have the idea that we are the "good guys," than if our conflict with enemies was simply a contest between two moral equals.  I cannot equivocate between radical Islamic terrorists and the U.S. government.

    Every time we as a nation or government do something stupid or evil, sometimes bordering on genocide, those taking the brunt of our nefarious actions build up reasons to create an all too plausible myth that we are the "Great Satan."  One of the problems of myth is that they are hardly ever completely true and that is because none of us are completely good, or completely evil.  We are all bad enough and that is a shame, but as Americans it is not enough that it be "us" against "them" but that we be essentially "better" than those who are against us.

    I am an American and I grew up with certain myths that were very powerful for me.  I happen to like those myths.  I have always wanted to be on the side of the "good guys" and wear the white hat.  I always thought it righteous to be a cowboy versus an Indian, or on the side of the cavalry when the bugle blows.  Then I read history and realized "we" weren't always the good guys; not in history nor in the eyes of Native Americans, African Americans, Africans, Latinos, Iranians, Arabs, etc., etc.

    But the negative myths about us that are held by the "other" side are just as erroneous, and also destructively inaccurate for our own self understanding and identity.  The good thing about the Senate report is that we ourselves are doing the reporting, even if according to the CIA they didn't get it completely correct.  This is also part of the American record, we tell on ourselves, we criticize ourselves, we have often sought some kind of repentance, and reconciliation.  Our record is that even when we have done evil there were those among us who stood for what was right, even at the cost of their lives, property, freedom, or reputation.

    Isn't it so that when some Americans wanted all the Indians dead and all their land taken that some Christians campaigned for Native American rights and sought to protect them as people?   Isn't it so that when some called black people less than human and that they could be taken as property some Christians campaigned against the entire notion of slavery, and certainly against racial slavery, as "man stealing?"  Isn't it so that an awful lot of white boys died fighting to end slavery? Isn't it so that when governments refused to give African Americans their civil rights there were white people who marched in the movement and even died in the struggle?  Aren't their white people marching in Ferguson?  Aren't there plenty of just and fair police officers?

   Yes, history is not all one thing, just ambiguous enough to make those who suffered (and their progeny) ambivalent about the holders of  power and the majority culture's claim of righteousness.  The facts of evil dominate the myth for those who suffered and that is why it is so important as Americans that we fight hard not to repeat injustice, anytime, anywhere, in any of our actions.
    
    The danger of blind patriotism is to think that whatever we do is right if someone is opposing us.  Even if one believes in overwhelming fire power to defeat our enemies it makes all the difference in the world if we know when and when not to apply it; when to shoot, when to use a choke hold, and when to restrain ourselves. Injustice and oppression always seem to have those who justify it, sometimes it is fear, sometimes naked avarice, sometimes false and pathetic theories about race, biology, gender, and religion.

  If we are a great nation, and I still believe that we are, we must always go back to our first principles and hold to them.  This is almost impossible of course if cultural shifts in such things as truth and philosophy create only one absolute and that being self-interest.  We are better because of what our founders believed, and we are only better if we keep believing it, and putting those principles into practice.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

THANKSGIVING FOR FERGUSON

  I'm not really, but I am trying to think of how and why I could be thankful for the events in Ferguson, MO this Thanksgiving of 2014.

    I'm thankful that no matter the injustice that exists in temporal times, God's Word says eternity is real and lasts forever, and there is no injustice there or then, forever.

    I'm thankful that in a world that can be terrifying with the prospect that even if you did everything right (and especially when you don't) someone may take away your rights, your freedom, or your life; there is the assurance of heaven, and eternal life.  Some things the world can take away, and some things it never can.

    I'm thankful that in a context where facts are disputed and there is much confusion some things are very clear.  A young man was killed, and he was unarmed, and that in and of itself is a tragedy and should not be.  The clarity of that should be gripping, and I am glad some people get that rather than seeking justification for it.

    I'm thankful that in the face of so many loudly declaring that racism is no longer existent or that we have outgrown our problems reality smacks us in the face once again, and is forcing many to think and discuss how far we have not yet come.

    I am thankful that many young people, and many church people, especially in the St. Louis area have taken these events deeply to heart and are grieving, and angry at injustice, yet praying, and talking, and leading in the efforts of healing, peace, and dialogue.

    I am thankful for the measure of restraint I see in the police around the country during these protests.  I am thankful as one who remembers Kent State, who lived in Newark, NJ and remembers the riots of the 60's and is appreciative of how American authorities are not as heavy handed as they used to be.

    I am thankful to the people in the community who sought to protect the property of others from being destroyed, and who realize how senseless it is for people to burn their own neighborhoods down.  I am glad for those that oppose that kind of violence as I remember how many decades it has taken for some cities to rise from the ashes of previous riots.

   I am thankful that those who say they "are so tired of making this into a racial issue" are made to stay awake and kept from falling to sleep by their own willful ambien ignorance and being forced to realize that the nation is not yet healed, and that their instransigence to listening and taking action is part of the problem.

    I am thankful for the churches that over these last decades have intentionally sought to be cross-cultural and multi-racial and are not now embarrassed by having somehow missed the fight of justice or love.

    I am thankful that a national spotlight can be focused on the culture of police tactics, training, and internal investigation and that possibly some departments can be exposed for terrible leadership, mismanagement, the excusing of racist or brutal officers, or the cover up of abuse of power.

   I am thankful for courageous policeman who do treat people, even really bad people, with respect and dignity while seeking to protect the community and truly serve the people even at the risk of their lives.

    I am thankful that the response around the nation to what has been perceived as a callous indifference to a far too wide and long antagonism between police and black citizens, especially young black males, has not been orchestrated by any organization or leaders but has been a grass roots and spontaneous outcry.

    I am thankful that repentance is possible, for abusers, for oppressive authorities, for looters, for seekers after violence, for cowards who hide behind the status quo.  I am thankful that there is forgiveness from God for our sins, both personally and corporately.  I am thankful that God gives us grace to forgive others who have hurt us, and even to those who won't admit what they have done.

   I am thankful that learning is possible, that the unity of love is stronger than the bitterness and disintegrating nature of hate.  I am thankful that one doesn't have to know everything (all the facts, or where to place the blame, or all the solutions) before one can be caring, and empathetic, or ready to make peace.

    I am thankful that there is God in heaven who sits up high but looks down low, who is and always has been the origin and character of justice and mercy.  I am thankful that the Sovereign God of the universe is the One who bends the moral arc of the universe toward himself, for in his glory is all the goodness for which we long and hope.  I am glad that there is no such thing as "getting away with murder" with Him.   No one walks away free from Him who repays except those who knew they needed to be paid for, and here I think of myself, and how thankful I am that Jesus has paid for my sins.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

GOD JOINS TOGETHER

The other day I was privileged to do a wedding.   I chose for my comments two texts, one from Mark 10 and one from Hebrews 13.   Though I have often quoted from Mark 10:9 at the end of the wedding ceremony, "What God has joined together let no man put asunder!"  I have not really thought about the impact of that statement in regard to what really makes a man or woman married.  I always simply took it as a warning that we should not seek to commit adultery, nor seek to divorce, which is certainly in the context of the passage.

    In the Hebrews passage I noticed that 13:4 tells us that "marriage should be held in honor among all..."   And so from thinking about these two commands in Scripture I come to some conclusions, and maybe they raise other questions.

   The marriage of (any and all) heterosexual partners is something God establishes.  The passage in Mark certainly makes a positive statement that marriage is between a man and a woman, as there were no other options in the garden, and this was obviously by God's design.  The fact that the marriage ceremony has varied over the millenia, being something between families, within a village or community, being celebrated with feast, gifts, and ceremony, given "official" status by the church, and then by the state doesn't take away from a theological understanding of every marriage.  It is God ordained, and that ordination is active in the institution generally and in each marital relationship severally. God does the joining, and it is consummated in the two becoming one through the sexual act of intercourse, and they are no longer two but one.  This act of becoming one cannot happen between homosexuals and therefore there is no marriage there, certainly not one ordained or joined by God, no matter what any earthly authority might say.

    Marriage is not simply the sex act, it is a covenant primarily between the two individuals involved, consummated and celebrated in the physical union, and is to be steadfastly protected and honored by everyone.  Marriage is not something simply to be honored by immediate family, or local community, but by anyone and everyone in the whole world when they meet and interact with a married couple.  The Egyptian Pharaoh doesn't have a right to take Abraham's wife, even if he thinks she is Abraham's sister, and even if Sarah is not from Egypt and was not married according to Egyptian rules, whatever they may have been.

    It is not wrong for the church and the state to license, celebrate,and regulate marriage, as long as it doesn't make it more or less than God has declared.  Children, property, inheritance, and health all are involved in the proper recognition and regulation of marriage relationships. It is proper for the community to celebrate weddings, not simply to provide historic photographs, but for those of us who attend the event to witness this covenant making and to begin to honor this new marriage relationship and support it.  We support each marriage not simply as a love for an individual couple, but as an act of support for all couples.

   Each marriage has its own struggles, trials, and temptations.  We make mention of that reality in the vows we use in the ceremony.  Some of this struggle comes from the common weakness of the individuals involved, some struggles will arise from the circumstances couples will variously face as they go through life, and some struggles will come from the interference of others.  If we are to honor marriage we must protect it, for all of us, and for each of us. 

   So the question arises, what about those marriages that should not have happened?  Suppose a Christian marries a non-Christian; once married is that marriage joined by God?   We know that when Jesus comes into a person's life, and that person is already married to someone who doesn't want Jesus, the person not loving Jesus is free to leave the Christian.  The Christian however is not free to leave the non-christian.  If the believer purposefully marries a non-christian we don't think they then have an option to leave when they realize what they have done and want out.

     I am not asking here about those who feel they made a mistake due to a growing awareness of incompatibility.   That could be the "get out of jail card" for a lot of couples at various moments of their married life.  Marriage is considered by most Christians to be so radical a commitment that even those marriages that "should not have been" have to be protected, and are considered under the command of Jesus not to be interfered with.  I am not speaking here of incestuous or child bondage brides or any that are against the law, in and under the proper regulation of the state.

    My comments here are not addressed to the boundaries of what might be called a 'Biblical divorce."  That is another discussion.

Friday, October 31, 2014

REFORMATION SUNDAY

Where is your jar to draw with,
A promised flow of water
To never thirst again?

This dry soul's not pretty
My life is as I wear it
Filthy rags
Mark not my pity
But my shame.

One among a brood of vipers
What I made and did not make
Whence, and from whom, I'm come;
Criminals die upon the rack
So justice ends the game.

As a slug dissolves in salt
So ants will come to feast,
Tease me not with deals for mercy
Or bribes for God
That hold no succor 
From Law's campaign.

God's fury my future,
A payment for my past.
Sir, give me this water
Springing up or falling down
Like everlasting rain!

No papal indulgences
This Reformation Day
No clerics script
To cover existential guilt
No hair cloth on skin
Appeases God for sin,
Masochistic self-flagellation
A waste of  pain.

"If you asked of me," you said
Water
That gives life to the dead,
The penitent's proper sacrament
A simple faith to ask.
I need the belt of Truth to grasp
A righteousness not my own
Which is all there ever could be, for sinners such as me.
The Lamb's propitious pain suffices for my gain.

Randy Nabors,
Oct. 31, 2014

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

HOW DO WE DEAL WITH THE MENTALLY ILL?

   Our present mental health policies and practice are both complicated, confusing, and too often tragically consequential. For those who have suffered with mental illness and those who must take medication to keep it under some kind of control, and retain stability, there are many challenges.  For those who live with a family member who is mentally ill there are other kind of challenges.  For those in law enforcement, those in emergency medicine, and those in mental health clinics and hospitals there are still more challenges.

    This is at one and the same time a very personal issue, a family issue, a church issue, a community issue, and a political one.  It becomes political because dealing with those who have mental problems costs money, and the decisions about where that money will come from, and how it will best be spent require diligence and sacrifice from the community.  Not only that, the wisdom, or lack of it, in how that money is applied will make an impact on the entire community.  It is complicated because the very science of helping those with mental illness often begs the desired end of being healed as therapies, drugs, and regimens are too often hit or miss and unsettled.

    The idea that if no one you personally know has a mental problem then this doesn't concern you is a fantasy.  It might affect one you some day soon by a homeless person who accosts you on a street corner, it might affect you by someone deciding to fixate on you, obsess over you, and decide he or she needs to kill you.  It might affect you by having one of your own family members be diagnosed as Bi-polar or schizophrenic, or a neighbor, or a church member, or by one of your children's classmates deciding he or she needs to start shooting at your son or daughter.

   Once those things happen you will begin wondering how come we haven't spent more money on this problem, how come we don't have better solutions, how come the police seem to have such few options, how come the prison system has become our largerst mental health care facility?  You will wonder, and  you will ask questions, but most likely unless you start a national movement nothing will change, and you will be one more sad story in a contiuing line of tragedy.

    This is not to suggest that the millions of people with mental problems are all potential murderers.  Thank God that is not the case.  Millions of people suffer, take medicine, live with supporting families or in group homes, take part in community services where their behavior in monitored, attend churches, schools, and social activites like the rest of us, and are loved.   

    However, the reality is that those with very aggressive tendencies, those who isolate themselves in paranoia and fantasy, those who sometimes create grievance out of thin air, and those who stop taking prescribed medication because no one has the authority to monitor and insure that they take it, can be suddenly explosive; if not a constant sense of dread and threat to those they have decided to harrass.

    Not everyone who is mentally ill has been diagnosed, not everyone who has been diagnosed had medicine to take, or takes the right kind or right amount.  Not everyone who has decided on their own to stop taking what has given them some state of normality is observed until things get out of hand.  Not everyone who is conscientious about taking their medicine can predict what will happen if they have other medical conditions that force them to stop taking what had heretofor controlled their thinking, moods, or behavior.

    I hurt for families who have tried to love family members but have seen their own children or siblings become a threat to them. I hurt for those families who have been forced to have family members become homeless because they could no longer contain or constrain them.  I hurt for those who have made call after call to get help for someone only to be told there is nothing that can be done, except maybe for a 72 hour mental health observation period, if they are a threat to themselves or others.  Of course, sometimes, this just makes someone really mad once they get out.

    I hurt for those who feel they have to arm themselves and get ready for what seems to be a showdown as their lives and families have been threatened.  I hurt for police officers who risk their lives as they have to sometimes confront and subdue such individuals who normally would never have disrespected authority or sought to hurt anyone.  I hurt for those in such despair over their behavior they seek to end their own lives.

    I am a Christian, and I believe in showing compassion.  I am a Christian and I believe Christians need to pray for healing.  I am a Christian and I believe churches have to have more ministries and training in how to help and serve the mentally ill.  I am also a brother who was raised with a mentally ill sister who was a constant physical threat to me and my family.  I have been a pastor and seen people I dearly loved, and who once loved me, become a terror to the church and their own families.

    I am an American, and I am sometimes ashamed that we seem to have given our best mental health care to those with "cadillac" insurance policies, while warehousing a lot of others in the prison system, and leaving thousands of families and communities to their fate in not knowing how to adequately deal with someone they would love to see healed, but now fear.

Friday, October 24, 2014

ABOUT BEING UNFRIENDLY

Proverbs 18: An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends...  That's the NIV, and the ESV says...."Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment."  I don't think this is a condemnation of people who think of themselves as introverts, only those who use their introversion as an excuse to be selfish.  Extroverts who are selfish are selfish in extroverted ways.

    When I was a teen-ager one of the Elders in my church gave me a small part time job in his retail men's clothing store.  One day they even allowed me to serve on the floor and wait on customers.  Now, I had met mean people before, had some street smarts from living in Newark, NJ, and had been in enough fights to have a certain wariness.  I had never been mistreated, that I remember, by people I was trying to help.  I sympathize with people in retail, because on that particular day my ignorance in being able to respond accurately and quickly to a customer got me cussed out royally, by the customer.

    All of my senses told me to get ready to fight, but I am sure the customer thought it his right to verbally abuse me.  I was supposed to be there to serve him and I wasn't doing it well because I just didn't know the answers to all of his questions.  I still didn't like it, and it is obvious I still remember it.

    As a pastor most people are nice to me, at least once they find out I am a pastor, and then of course once my identity is revealed I have to be nice to them too.  We both know they have to be nice to me or else they will be struck by lightning.  Well, not really, but sometimes I like to think that would or should be the case.

   God has spent years training me about my selfishness, and the Holy Spirit has worked many hours, days, and years on my tendency toward resentment, bitterness, and desire for revenge.  Sometimes my unfriendliness is a symptom of my moodiness, as in, I am in a bad mood and therefore justified in being brusk, officious, silent, and giving off an aura of latent hostility.  Mess with me at your peril!

    Evidently God feels free to mess with me, he never seems to get intimidated by my surliness, and actually seems to take pleasure in humiliating me in just those moments.  At the moment of my impending violence, the moments of my revenge fantasies playing out in my mind are often complicated by an inept ability to walk, talk, think, drive, eat, put on clothes, fix mechanical objects, use tools, or remember where I put my keys and wallet, et cetera.  People are more forgiving of a clutz who is friendly than one who seems threatening, for him there is only mocking laughter and disdain.

    Unfriendliness is related to being selfish.  I am too busy for you, don't take up my time, don't interrupt me, don't delay me, and please don't need me.  I hate it when people need me, I only want them to be consistently available when I need them, and I expect them to be able to actually do something about my need, not just sympathize.  I don't really empathize with other people, I have to work hard at faking sympathy, but God made me a pastor so what else can I do?

   He must have done this because He knows how selfish I am.  It is apparent that He thought marriage would expose a lot of my selfishness, and having children really smacked the truth of my selfishness in my face.  No one really told me I would have to share things with my kids.  Is it wrong to eat ice cream in the pantry so they won't see it, since there isn't enough for everyone?  My wife thought so, who is the evil exposer of much of my selfishness.

    Upon joining a gym I found out that some people use gyms because they don't really like people, but sort of pretend they are sociable by working out in proximity to others.  Some men walk around butt naked in the locker room without a trace of vulnerabilty.  These are the kind of guys who, when you say, "good morning!"  They say, "what's good about it?"  Guys who when you try to start a conversation look right through you as if you were something they just rubbed off their shoe.

    "Man," I think, "he is pretty unfriendly and selfish."   One day when riding an exercise bike beside one particular man who was probably one of the sourest people I have ever been around just blurted out how he wished he were dead.  I realized how deep the saddness went inside a man that seemed a hollow shell and I realized my own self-protectiveness prevented me from seeing his pain.

   Hard exteriors and crusty shells, unfriendly and selfish attitudes, often hide a moaning heart.  Sinful yes, as my selfishness has been.  Crafted by pride, mortared by spite, sustained by defensiveness, and explained and justified to ourselves by our fears.  We break out against all sound judgment.

    Friendliness in itself is not holiness, it is sometimes a mask for hidden agendas and a palliative for a conscience that hides other iniquities.  "I may be a monster, but at least I am nice to strangers and puppies," the hedonist and serial killer might say.  However, in the kingdom of Christ selfishness is not allowed, it is a sin.  Unfriendliness as an expression of that selfishness is anti-Christ, it is a putting off of people not a welcome to them.  It is a symptom of a wretched and nasty heart.  It is an embarrassing thing to realize that if Jesus treated us as we treat others, at times, he would never have heard our desperate cry for mercy, for forgiveness, for love.  He has always listened, always stops on his way to somewhere else to heal the blind, the deaf, the cripple, and the broken when they cry.  As he listens now, for those of us who cry to be rescued from our selfish and unfriendly hearts and ways.