Luke 9:51-56 (NLT)
51 As the time drew near for him to ascend to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. 52 He sent messengers ahead to a Samaritan village to prepare for his arrival. 53 But the people of the village did not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to Jerusalem. 54 When James and John saw this, they said to Jesus, �Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up?� 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them. 56 So they went on to another village.
From the words of Matthew Henry - This passage of story we have not in any other of the evangelists, and it seems to come in here for the sake of its affinity with that next before, for in this also Christ rebuked his disciples, because they envied for his sake. There, under colour of zeal for Christ, they were for silencing and restraining separatists: here, under the same colour, they were for putting infidels to death; and, as for that, so for this also, Christ reprimanded them, for a spirit of bigotry and persecution is directly contrary to the spirit of Christ and Christianity.
The Samaritans rejected Jesus because he was on His way to Jerusalem. The Samaritans were at odds with those in Jerusalem over the proper place to worship. The Samaritans were particularly incensed against Christ, who was a celebrated teacher for adhering to the temple at Jerusalem when the priests of that temple were such bitter enemies to Him. The disciples understanding this bitterness between the Samaritans and the Jews wanted to destroy them for the sake of Christ. Yet we see Jesus stopped, turned and rebuked them for their thoughts and then they continued on to another village that would accept Him.
Those who obstinately or intolerantly are devoted their own opinions lose sight of Christ�s purpose. God tells us that He so loved the world that He gave His only Son, Jesus, that whoever places their faith in Him will have everlasting life. The ministry of Christ was to show people their need for redemption from sin. Often Jesus would go to a sinner, tell them of their sin, and then say to them �go and sin no more.� We never hear Jesus threatening people nor do we find Jesus condemning those who needed His love. In fact in the verses above we see Jesus rebuking His disciples for the thought of harming a town for His sake.
The ministry of the church is the same ministry of Jesus. The church should love people, reach out to them, teach them about sin, share with them the redeeming freedom from sin found in Jesus and encourage them to sin no more. Yet there are Christians who are devoted to their own opinions and are intolerantly attacking individuals. I have no issue with the church stating what sin is and taking up for moral causes; but their actions should be directed towards the sin and not the people. To hear a pastor in the news say a group of people should be rounded up and put behind electric fences is not in line with the ministry of Christ or the love of Christ. How can The Church reach out to people with love when they are voicing hatred?