I have had this blog post swirling around in my head for over a year. I keep stopping myself from actually typing the words because I wasn't sure if they should be said.
Would it be too hypocritical of me? Certainly. Would I be able to control my anger/frustration/bitterness? Probably not fully. Would going public with my stance cause some to stop reading this blog or not participate in Sacred Holidays studies? Likely. Do I have the theological background to make a biblical remark? Not even close. Do I even have the intellect? We won't talk about GPAs here (wink).
Lots of excuses. Lots of fears. Yet this message that I will share with you today will not leave my head. So I'm trusting that someone out in the world wide web needs to hear it today because my journal is over me talking about it.
Before I get started let me make a couple of disclaimers:
#1 These are my thoughts. They are not fully represented by all Christians, my church, my family, etc. #2 I'm not saying these are God's words. Not even close. I do love God and desperately want my life to honor Him, but I in no way am proclaiming this is Him speaking. #3 I'm not angry. Not really. A little irritated and over it. So if my sarcastic tone comes across angry, forgive me. #4 I love you. I don't mean that to sound cheesy, but I truly adore you, my readers. I so appreciate that you give up precious time to read these words. Thank you for sticking around. #5 This is NOT a political blog post. You can ask anyone in my family, I'm not into politics. I'm into people. I have (and I'm sure will continue to) vote on each side of the ballot, choosing the better bad option (my opinion). This post isn't political it is personal.
For those pressed on time, let me summarize this long blog post for you because I simply couldn't make it shorter:
To Christians who are being "brave" in posting updates/blog posts/email forwards/etc. and you feel you are doing this for the sake of Christ, let me just say: please stop.
To those that don't believe in Christianity (and have very little interest now), let me just say I'm sorry. Not all who speak out online are representative of Christ or Christians.
OK, so here it goes.
I am baffled over the response of Christians to MANY hot topics that have been in the media this past year(s). Legalization of gay marriage, health care, racial accusations, etc. just to name a few have lit up Christians online.
I can't even believe the flippant status updates I've seen on Facebook. I have nearly unfollowed half my newsfeed due to the calloused words so carelessly posted on social media. In a self proclaimed moment of "bravery" with a judgmental and ignorant post many Christians have undone years of prayers and love by others.
Who you fail to consider when you post status after status on why gays shouldn't be able to marry is the man or woman, who happens to be gay, reading your words. While your Christian friends are liking and commenting on your words, further puffing up your good deed effort, the person who is gay has now been isolated. He has been put into his own camp, that isn't yours. She has been told that she isn't loved. We try to lighten things up with saying things like "hate the sin, not the sinner" or "I'm saying this with love..." Why? Is this to make yourself feel better? I can assure you the "sinner" feels hated and not just because of their "sin."
Further more, since when do ANY of us have the right to speak out about this?
One of my very favorite stories in the Bible, that displays the Character of Christ and rebukes the character of His followers, is the story of "The Woman Caught in Adultery" in John 8:1-11. If you aren't familiar with this story, I'll summarize it. Jesus was at the temple and the religious leaders brought to Him a woman who was caught having an affair and they asked what they should do. The Hebrew law said for this sin she should be stoned. Jesus drew some things in the sand (wish we knew what it was) and said:
"Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." John 8:7
One by one the people left. Then Jesus did what He does: offered this woman, not condemnation, but correction and grace. He set the standard that there is nothing we need to do to correct others, He has got this. He deals with the sin and the sinner, each of us one-on-one. We have to trust God to do His job and stop trying to do it for Him because we are doing a terrible job.
So what about you? Have you sinned?
As you passionately stand against the legalization of gay marriage, will you also passionately stand against divorce? Or does that make you uncomfortable because you are divorced? How is your "sin" any different? Why are you fighting so hard against the family "God intends" when you are not married any longer? (I find it incredibly ironic that that Kentucky Clerk has been divorced 3 times. I wonder if she would've signed her own document?) Or maybe for those who have stuck it out are technically married, but in a sexless marriage (something also rebuked in the Word of God). What have you to say? Where is your post on those topics?
Or what about you who are outraged that this country is now offering free (really discounted) health care for those that can't afford it or have access to it? Yet you have no problem when credit cards hand you out free money so you can pile on the debt. Many that are sharing posts about the new healthcare system have filed for bankruptcy or have not being entirely honest with taxes or even tithing. We have all taken advantage of things financially in some way. (Not to mention if the church was being the church, would we even need welfare, food stamps, discounted healthcare and the like? But that's a whole different blog for a different day.)
How about the many that have slandered high profile families that have had their lives destroyed by the Ashley Madison user leak? Have you never looked at porn? Have you never done anything physically with someone that you regretted? I'm not saying what those people did were right at all. I'm so grateful they were exposed. I hate it for their families, but am grateful for their families at the same time. The truth will come out. What I don't agree with is our response of judgment to the situation.
I could go on and on. The issue isn't that "they" are wrong. We are all wrong. We are all in desperate need of a Savior (Romans 3:23). The issue is that we aren't the ones that can save them and we aren't the ones that should condemn them either.
A quote our pastor shared that Chris and I keep thinking about is this:
I HIGHLY recommend you listen to this amazing sermon by our pastor, Jason Shepperd. His response to Christians in how they responded to the legalization of gay marriage is spot on. Click here and go to the sermon from 7/5/15 titled "Ephesians 1:1-22 // Cultural Christianity. Follower. Mission. Method." I wanted to jump up, clap and yell "right on" through most of the sermon. This also happens to be the message that sealed the deal for us that Church Project would be our new church family.
So how should Christians respond?
Honestly, I don't know. This is half the reason I've put off this post for so long. I don't have the answers. None of us do. If someone claims to, be worried and run. Some ideas that might help us get closer to the answer:
Listen more than you talk. Ask questions more than providing answers.
When was the last time you had a conversation with someone who is gay? Most of us in our comfortable Christian bubbles have no response. We are in so many Bible studies and go to so many "service" projects that we have forgotten that there is an entire world hurting right outside our church doors. Open your table up to your neighbors and your co-workers. Ask about their lives. Don't cringe when it doesn't mesh with yours. Humbly ask the questions in your head. They won't bite. Don't try to convert them. Just try to be their friend, really love them. Let Christ do the saving, not you.
Trying to get our country to act more like Christians are supposed to will is putting a bandaid on the problem. Why should they act like Christians? Care less about their actions and more about their heart. Listen to their heart.
Pause before you post.
We could all benefit from this. I am often an offender of this too. Before you post (really anything) on a platform that goes to mass groups, pause. Consider ALL who might see it. Then ask yourself, "Would this be better sent to my family? Mentioned at dinner tonight? Discussed with friends at small group tomorrow?" These conversations should happen less publicly.
Choose love. Always.
This doesn't mean tolerance or ignoring things.
"A new commandment I (Jesus) give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
Choosing love means that you love "just as" Christ loved. If you have gotten confused on what that looks like and really have set your standard to love as other Christians love, go back to the gospels. Slowly and carefully read Matthew, Mark, Luke and/or John. Take note of how Christ lived and mimic Him. Others will always screw it up. We are human. Christ is our standard.
Do something... for things that matter.
I think a huge reason we are getting riled up about these things has less to do with bringing our country back to God (as if He has left) and more to do with us being created to be advocates of a greater things. Namely Jesus. To follow His example, let's feed the hungry crowds before preaching to them. They will stick around when we feed them. Let's watch Him provide for the thousands we serve with just a couple of fish and loaves of bread. When they watch our faith and see His provision, you better believe they will stick around for the message (Matthew 14:13-21).
Where can you start? Here are just a few ideas. Seek the Holy Spirit, your "Helper... who will teach you all things." (John 14:26) This is a jumping place to help you find your place, the people you were meant to advocate for.
- Did you know there are 27 million slaves in our world? Go to End It to get started on learning about this and what you can do.
- Did you know that in the US there are 120,000 orphans and 400,000 children who don't live in permanent housing. A great organization that is local to me (Houston, TX) that could help connect you with a similar ministry in your area is The Orphan Care Network. Consider adoption or fostering. At the very least ask how you can support those in your area who are doing this. That is WAY too many children who aren't being tucked in by people who they can call family each night. Their worlds have been rocked. They need you.
- Did you see this picture of the refugee boy face down in the sand?
I couldn't stop staring at it. It haunts me. Go to We Welcome Refugees to see where you can start doing something.
These stats and pictures should haunt us. We can't turn away from these things any longer. It is easy to do a status update about how we should make those who don't follow Christ look more like Christians (or at least how Christians are called to look). May we gain some perspective as we remember that our world is big and full of a lot of hurting people. May we put our efforts there.
(Clearly there are LOTS more hurting and LOTS of organizations that are helping. Feel free to comment on social media with ministries you know that are helping. Let's resource one another!)
Jesus said in John 14:26 just after sharing about the Holy Spirit, our Helper,
"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid."
Deep breath. You don't need to move to move to a different country. Our country isn't going to hell in a hand basket (not even sure what that means). Our country is full of lots of sin and sinners. Even so, God's grace is able to cover all. He is still on His throne. Take your eyes off of the waves around you (Matthew 14:22-33) and lock eyes with the one who parts seas (Exodus 14:21) and raises the dead (John 11:38-44).
How should those who wouldn't consider themselves Christians respond?
First, know that I am sorry.
I hate the way Jesus has been portrayed to you because so many of His followers have screwed up. I totally know where you are. I didn't become a Christian until I was 16 largely because of the hypocrisy of those that called themselves Christians. I felt them to be ignorant, judgmental, sheltered and boring. All I can say is Jesus is who we are called to follow not people. Seek to know Christ not Christianity. He has so been worth it.
No one is perfect or has it all together.
I like to remember that professional baseball players are considered to be average hitters if they have a .250 batting average (meaning, they hit well 25% of the time) and are considered to be awesome hitters if they have a .300 batting average or above (meaning, they hit well 30% of the time). So if you hit well 1/4 to 1/3 of the time you can get paid millions of dollars to play baseball. We are all going to mess up again and again. Grace. He offers us grace, getting what we don't deserve. This is not meant to be an excuse for outrageously ridiculous behavior by those who claim Christ, just reality that all mess up.
If you've made it all the way here, major props to you. Apologies to your boss, teacher or kiddos for distracting you. I hope you leave this post encouraged and equipped to act in love. If you found it helpful, share it with your friends. Much love to you all!