Why Did Jesus Never Say "Be Nice"?
As Christians, we hold unto every word of Christ, Who Himself is the Word of God, the Word made flesh. What he did and said was painstakingly recorded in great detail in sacred scriptures.
Outside the Bible, many “gospels” and apocryphal writings claim to have the long-lost words of Jesus. Some even go as far as claiming that the secrets they hold unlock the doors of heaven to us.
But in all these writings and teachings, I have never read anywhere that Jesus said we should be “nice.”
You may be thinking, “so what Jesus didn’t say ‘be nice’? There are a lot of things he didn’t say. Does that mean we should throw those away too?”
No. Let’s not draw hasty conclusions.
Jesus didn’t talk about many things, and not all the things he talked about were recorded in the Bible. In fact, a large chunk of the faith comes to us from Apostolic Tradition and not just Sacred Scriptures.
But we’re narrowing down on this Nice Theology, if we can call it that, because it contradicts the things we know that Jesus definitely said.
The Life of a Christian
Jesus came to teach us to live our lives in a specific way:
- Believing Truth,
- Loving God above all and neighbor as self, and
- Practicing Justice.
Jesus famously said, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
Most people are also aware that it was Jesus who taught us which two commandments were the greatest in all the Law: Love of God above all and love of neighbor as self (Mark 12:30–31).
However, only a few people know about this verse in the Bible:
“He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
— Micah 6:8
This way of life means that a person will be in opposition to the spirit of this world by default.
A man who walks justly in an unjust world has made himself the world's enemy. A man who loves and is kind puts himself at odds with this hateful and selfish generation, for the love which God prescribes puts God first and then neighbor, but that which the world preaches cries out, “I’ve gotta put me first!”
And who is he that walks humbly with God? The sinner? The unbeliever? No, it is the saint, the sign of contradiction; the one who carries his cross and walks behind the Master on their way to be crucified!
So, how does being nice oppose this way of life?
The Problem With Nice Theology
To be nice, by definition, is to be “pleasant” and “agreeable.” A nice person does not stand in opposition to the situation; he agrees with it.
However, in a world that takes a stance against the Truth, a Christian cannot be expected to be nice — to agree.
The Christian is the one who you’ll find saying,
- Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand!
- You will die in your sins if you do not leave this wicked way!
- Stop killing unborn children!
- Homosexual acts are an abomination unto the Lord!
- Worship God in his Church on Sunday, and stop giving stupid excuses at home and in your workplaces.
- Sex before marriage is called fornication, and it is a grave sin!
- Sex outside marriage is called adultery, and it too is a grave sin!
The “nice” Christian is stupid (from the Latin origin of nice, “nescius,” meaning “ignorant”). And he is stupid indeed, for he is “lacking in good judgment.”
“Don’t judge,” they say, quoting Matthew 7:1. But they miss the fuller quote and context which is recorded in the Gospel of John:
“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”
— John 7:24
These are the words of Jesus Himself. He cautions us against judging based on whether or not someone’s emotions are hurt at the moment. He calls us to see the bigger picture, the salvation of their souls, and realize that this is necessary work!
And so St. Paul cries:
“Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?”
— Galatians 4:16
Like his Master before him, he would rather die than be nice. For the Christian, like the Christ, is a sign of contradiction, a sign to be spoken against (Luke 2:24, Acts 28:22).
Be kind, like the soldier who applies spirit and pressure to the wounds of his comrade-in-arms in the heat of battle. Be like that soldier who seems to ignore the screams and pleading of his friend but hurries to apply the necessary treatment.
But woe to you if you choose friendship with this world and in so doing make yourself an enemy of God, for it is written:
“Unfaithful creatures! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”
— James 4:4