Odium Generis Humani (hatred for the human race) – By Daniel Sheridan
“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” Genesis 12:1-3
God called Abram to bring the light of the true and living God to the nations under the cruel bondage of idolatry – to bless, or exalt them out of that darkness. They weren’t to look on the nations as inferiors, but as a mission field. But something happened.
“To the outside observer the Jews at that time of our Lord were the most religious people on earth…Never was a nation so ruled by the written law of God; never did a nation so carefully and scrupulously study its sacred books, and pay greater reverence to its priests and teachers. The leaders of the nation looked with horror and contempt upon the unclean, uncircumcised Gentiles, and confirmed the people in their spiritual pride and conceit. No wonder that the Romans charged the Jews with the odium generis humani (hatred for the human race). Yet, after all, this intense religiosity was but a shadow of true religion. It was a praying corpse rather than a living body.”
“Alas! the Christian Church in some ages and sections presents a similar sad spectacle of the deceptive form of godliness without its power. The rabbinical learning and piety bore the same relation to the living oracles of God as sophistic scholasticism to Scriptural theology, and Jesuitical casuistry to Christian ethics. The Rabbis spent all their energies in “fencing” the law so as to make it inaccessible. They analyzed it to death. They surrounded it with so many hair-splitting distinctions and refinements that the people could not see the forest for the trees or the roof for the tiles, and mistook the shell for the kernel. Thus they made void the Word of God by the traditions of men. A slavish formalism and mechanical ritualism was substituted for spiritual piety, an ostentatious sanctimoniousness for holiness of character, scrupulous casuistry for genuine morality, the killing letter for the life-giving spirit, and the temple of God was turned into a house of merchandise.”
The leaders of our Lord’s day knew full well that they had the reputation of being haters of humanity; this should have smitten the conscience of every follower of the true and living God. But they only doubled down on their hatred. The Jews, for instance, had no dealings with the Samaritans, but our Lord, in the true spirit of Genesis 12:1-3, dealt with them beautifully. As a result, the whole town confessed Jesus as the Savior of the World. See John 4. Jesus was acting like man as God intended man to be – love and light in a dark world.
Beloved, what is our reputation to those around us? Do they see us as angry self-righteous people who will have “no dealings” with them? Do they see us as “haters of the human race?” Is our “religion” a sad spectacle? Do we have a form of godliness with no power? Do our words and actions speak otherwise? Do we, by our kind actions and words, attract others to our glorious Savior? Will our neighbors, because of our character, be led to confess that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World?