Over the last several months, as I have made posts on Facebook and Twitter, I have received a large number of nasty comments or criticism veiled as questions. It’s only increased over this week as I’ve begun to speak out on issues that are important to my faith and what I believe God has called me to do.
We don’t all agree—on the state of our country, on the competency of our president and his cabinet, on the laws and regulations that make our country “great.” I get that.
What I don’t get is Christians who abuse other Christians. Here’s one set that came to me after a post last week:
Here are three concepts I think we all need to grasp as we navigate through the weeks and months ahead:
Not one of us gets it all correct.
Over the years my opinions on many things have changed (legwarmers as everyday wear, anyone?), including on what the Scriptures are really saying. I have not changed my faith in the accuracy of Scripture, I have changed my faith in my own (or various Christian leaders’) interpretation of it.
For instance, I can remember as a high schooler attending creation seminars led by respected Christians who emphatically told me that dinosaurs never existed, that they were created by atheists who patched bones of various creatures together with fake bones. Now, even the conservative Institute for Creation Research acknowledges the existence of dinosaurs while disagreeing with many scientists on how long ago they existed.
It would be foolish for me to cling to the belief that dinosaurs never existed simply because I was taught it from an expert when I was 15. As I’ve studied the Scriptures and read more, as I’ve had people who love Jesus point out to me parts of the Bible I tended to ignore, my convictions and my priorities have changed. That doesn’t make me a heretic (remember, Martin Luther and the Protestant reformers were considered heretics and many were burned at the stake for it). It makes me a seeker of God’s truth.
I fully imagine we each will enter the presence of Jesus and spend some time saying, “Wow! How could I have gotten that so wrong?!” whatever that may be. So when we disagree with others, particularly when we are wielding Scripture as a weapon, maybe we can all take a step back and, at least in our heads, remind ourselves that there is a possibility we could be the one in the wrong.
We need to be kind to each other.
“They will know we are Christians by our love,” goes the little chorus. But that chorus is based on Jesus’s own words recorded in John 13:35:
“By this all men will know that you are My disciples,
if you have love for one another.”
Love is to be the hallmark of the followers of Christ as they interact with one another. So telling another Christian she is “siding with the enemy” doesn’t really fit that bill. (Really, calling her “so uninformed” also isn’t too loving.) Neither sarcasm (my pit to fall into) or labeling (“ungodly leftist liberal” and “right-wing whack job” come to mind) seem to fit Christ’s admonition either.
I have many friends on Facebook who don’t claim to follow Jesus, and sometimes I cringe as I wonder what they must think of what
right-wing whack jobs other self-named Christians write in my comments. One friend reassured me that she only reads my posts and ignores all the comments criticizing what I’ve said. I doubt that’s true of everyone, though, which leads me to my third point.
No one wants to come to Jesus because we call them names or yell at them.
I sometimes wonder if my Christian friends are connected on Facebook only to those who self-identify as Christian. If they had friends who were Muslim, would they so easily call them all terrorists? If they knew people who were gay (and they probably do, even if they don’t realize it), would they actually use the word “Sodomites” and call them an “abomination”? If they had Jewish friends, would they be so adamant that we are and must be a “Christian nation”?
When people say unkind things to me or about me, I am disinclined to acquiesce to their request of any kind. So after shouting on Facebook about all the types of people and their “agendas” that we are against, why would we think they would want to know our Jesus?
You don’t have to agree with the choices, behaviors, or opinions of others. It’s one of the blessings of a democracy. And I would prefer you not think of those who think differently as your enemies either. But if that’s how they seem to you, then at least apply these words of Jesus:
“But I say to you who hear, love your enemies,
do good to those who hate you,
bless those who curse you,
pray for those who mistreat you.
Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also;
and whoever takes away your coat,
do not withhold your shirt from him either.
Give to everyone who asks of you,
and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back.
Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you?
For even sinners love those who love them.
If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you?
For even sinners do the same.
If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive,
what credit is that to you?
Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount.
But love your enemies,
and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return;
and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High;
for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.
Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
Because let’s face it, we’ve all been wrong before.
And if anything is ever going to change our minds about anything,
it’s radical, sacrificial love.
Love like Jesus’s.
4 thoughts on “Three Things to Remember (Because These Issues Aren’t Going Away)”
Hi. Don’t know you, have never seen anything of yours until this, today, showed up in my FB news feed because a friend liked it. You are spot on with this, and I don’t claim to have it all under control myself.
When Trump became the Republican nominee, it was the first time in my life I had ever found myself having to work hard not to wish something bad would happen to a person. Okay, maybe the occasional (obvious) criminal, but in general, I wouldn’t think of wishing ill on someone, and I didn’t like one bit that I was feeling that.
As things have gotten more chilling in the days leading up to and since the inauguration, I have actually found myself able to pray for the man, which still surprises me. I can pray that he feels better about himself so he doesn’t have to tear down other people, to strike out so much at, well, nearly everyone. I can pray that the Lord will touch his heart and help him realize what kind of good he could with the power he has. I wish him a road-to-Damascus experience of his own. How miserable must it be to be that insecure? How great would it be if he could truly feel that God loved him?
Carol you are my hero for even trying to speak what’s on your mind at this volatile and scary time. And Meredith W. from above…Ditto!! Vali
Thank you, Vali! I have to do what I am called to do—even when it requires being brave.
Thank you for speaking the truth in love.