Rev. Dr. George Hancock-Stefan

For many people who read the daily newspapers or pay attention to news on the internet, the diplomatic meeting between American and Chinese delegations on March 19 in Anchorage, Alaska was a textbook description of how relations are built among nations. After watching that meeting, one might conclude that diplomacy is a meeting between two bullies seeking to gain advantages over the other. The reality is that the same type of behavior is found in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Democrats and the Republicans threaten, bully, and defend their own party and turf, no matter how wrong or inconsistent they are.

In the Scriptures, Jesus used the expression, “The Gentiles behave this way, however this should not be so among you.” He gives many examples of Gentile behavior and then entreats believers to do the opposite (Matthew 20:25, Mark 10:42, Luke 22:25). After the resurrection of Jesus, we are challenged to become Christlike, to become Godlike. There is a way of the world, of the Gentiles, and there is a way of those who call themselves the children of the heavenly Father.

At the Last Supper, Jesus tells his Twelve Disciples to love one another as He has loved them. Jesus lifts relational love to an exceedingly high standard. In the Garden of Gethsemane, he prays that we will love one another as He has loved us and by this, all the world will know that the Father has sent the Son. Paul tells husbands to love their wives as Christ has loved the church—Christ sacrificed for the church, so that he could present her in all her splendor to the Father.

Luke challenges readers to go beyond the Gentile way of loving your friends and doing good for those who are good to you. “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you!” (Luke 6:27-28) Is this lifestyle easy? Not at all! But Luke gives believers some motivation to help cultivate this practice. “But love your enemies, do good to them and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.”

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Jackson Pines and Cranston Dean in residency at Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park
Jackson Pines and Cranston Dean at Langosta

Thomas O. Chisholm wrote the lyrics for the beloved hymn O To Be Like Thee, which says, “O To Be Like Thee blessed Redeemer, This is my constant longing and prayer, Gladly I will forfeit all earth’s treasures, Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear. O to be like Thee, O to be like Thee, Blessed Redeemer pure as thou art: Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness; Stamp Thine own image, deep on my heart.”

We can see the transformation that happened among the Twelve Apostles when they received the Holy Spirit. Luke records the surprise of the Sanhedrin when he writes, “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)

President Joe Biden tells us that he is a Christian and that he regularly worships the Lord. Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy say that they are Christians, and that they frequently pray. Chuck Schumer and Mitch McConnell tell us that they pray and read the Scriptures (after all, Schumer reminded his colleagues of the Ten Commandments a couple of weeks ago). Do people see God in them? Can anyone see that we read the Bible and pray because of the way we move about our daily lives? In our business dealings, in our educational systems, in our political positions, can people say about us what they said about the Apostles? Do they know that we have been with Jesus because of the message we send with our courage, our mercy, and our love?


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George Hancock-Stefan

Pastor George Hancock-Stefan completed 30 years as the pastor of the great congregation at Central Baptist Church in Atlantic Highlands in 2020. Those 30 years have been a blessed time for him, his wife...