So a friend tells me how she’s been snubbed and side-lined by those who should know better. Those who claim Christ but don’t weigh their words before dropping them like so many sticks, stones and anvils. Those who ignore when they should engage. Those who lash out instead of letting it go.
And I get it. Christians behaving badly. Christians getting it tragically wrong when we know the truth and should totally be getting it right. Christians being cool and cliquey when other Christians are being beheaded.
But – how’s this for awkward –
You and me both, friend, we’re somebody else’s irritating Christian.
For sure there are somebodies in my life and yours mildly or aggressively peeved by the way we walk our walk or roll up our sleeves and our secrets to show bleeding hearts. For sure somebody rolls their eyes at you because you call yourself a Jesus-follower instead of a Christian, or because you’re doing Lent and they’re speaking in tongues, or because you raise your hands and they have tattoos, or because you’re into Word study and they’re into world saving. Or whatever.
But the issue isn’t how we who’s-who others. It’s who we say Jesus is. He asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say I am?’ And people were saying all sorts of things which didn’t bother him because he knew who he was and his heart was only after what his disciples believed.
‘But what about you?’ he asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’ Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah.’ (Mark 8:29)
And I’m thinking, can’t we let the truth of just that slice through our debates and dislikes? Because for those of us who name the name of Christ – who declare with our lives that he’s the Son of the living God and the Saviour of the world – it’s ok to argue Christian culture but –
It’s not ok to be unkind.
So, what if we all took a risk to let our love show, so the world would know?
Love risks being soft. Which means you look at the offenders like brothers and sisters and remember that, like you, they know the freedom of the cross and God holds them tender. You remember that he is just as intent on their destiny as he is on yours. You remember that his love is relentless, unblinking and unbroken in the midst of their brokenness, and yours.
Love risks being strong. Which means you dare to quiet with grace when all things brash and brazen are flung at you dressed up as conversation. It means you steel yourself against the snide and the sulky and fling wide with strong arms the love that covers. It means you have the strong presence of mind to remember that someone’s antagonism probably says more about them than it says about you. And then you muster all your strength to fall to your knees, and forgive.
Love risks being supple. Because blessed are the flexible, for they shall survive. Bow low in the wisdom that breeds humility that leads to greater wisdom. Bend easy around other people’s imperfections as far as you hope that they’ll bend around yours. (Tweet that?)
Love risks being sensitive. Which means you pray for discernment – go with your gut – lean in with love. It means you don’t waste an interaction because every person who warms or inflames your day is your captive audience to love on in those intersecting moments or minutes.
And then you throw yourself on the mercy of God because you know how much you need someone to cut you the same kind of slack, and because you know that our love for one another is our only hope for changing the world.
. . .
Some news, if you’re this far down the page and still reading:
- Last week’s post seems to have resonated with a few thousand people. If you missed it, here it is – Fifty Shades of Hope: A letter to my husband.
- If today’s post struck a chord – there’s a chapter on community in my book Dragons and Dirt: The truth about changing the world – and the courage it require. You can get it here or on Amazon.
- And lastly, if God brings me to mind and you feel like you should pray? Please do. Christian Art Distributors (CUM) are commissioning me to write the 366-day devotional version of Dragons and Dirt. Which is *awesome*. And *hard work*. I’m also still writing for the WordSpace and we’re working on a new channel just for moms. Thank you!
I’d love to pray for you too. Drop me an email?