Most of the time I’m so proud of my brothers and sisters who believe in and follow Jesus. So many times I’m overwhelmed by the love they show Jesus, me and others that I feel like I could explode with so much goodness. This family is the best ever. But there are days, like today, where my heart hurts I’m so disappointed at the way some of my family (spiritually speaking) is behaving. Not all just some. It only takes a few to ruin a good thing. It only takes a few to paint an incorrect picture of a very real God.
The past week and a half I’ve been detached from social media and really most of life as we were in El Salvador on a Compassion International mission trip and then readjusting to being home. So today was the first time to read about what has been going on with World Vision (if you are out of the know as well, long story short, from what I've gathered anyway, is WV has changed their staff rules to allow those in a same-sex marriage/relationship to be employed by WV) and also an apology by a "celebrity pastor" for what he has made his ministry. I've been heartbroken by the response of so many in the Christian community to both of these situations.
So just to be clear, this is NOT a post on same sex marriage or becoming a Christian celebrity or even the allowance/support/tolerance of either of those issues. This is simply a response to our attitudes and our voices around this topic and any other headlining topic for the future.
At what point did it become OK to publicly rebuke others as a first response? Seriously. That wasn’t rhetorical. Computers and cell phones and social media and blogs make it far to easy for us to forget that the Bible (the same one being shaken at others) has some very specific things to say about rebuking and correcting. At what point did we become exempt from Matthew 18:15-20? Why do we feel exempt from confronting our brother alone and then taking one other with us and then handing them over to the church just because we are sitting behind a keyboard or shiny screen.
The comments, emails, texts, blog rebuttals, tweets and such have got to stop. It is cowardly to put it kind and not Biblical to be blunt.
Which leads me to the next point.
Do you know who is listening? Who are you speaking to? Is that the most effective way? I was a communications major in college. Granted I wasn’t the best student (quickly learned that going to class is pretty necessary if you want to make the Dean's List or stay in leadership in school sanctioned organizations) but I know one thing we discussed often in my communications and public relations classes is you have to know your audience.
Do you know your audience?
When you update your status, tweet, instagram, comment, blog, etc., do you know who is watching/listening virtually speaking? Because in our day we all have an audience. We are all photographers and writers, whether we realize it or not.
Yes your fellow Christian buddies are a part of your audience and they are so proud of you for speaking out. You will have so many likes on what you put out there from them. Many are probably encouraged and more built up by it even. No doubt. You have earned some super spiritual Christian cred points and are now considered an abolitionist of our time on social media.
But you know who else is listening?
Your high school friend from 2 decades ago who follows you. You never see him in your newsfeed because he is one of those silent types that never posts. Much like the rest of the world his thumb is constantly scrolling through his newsfeed. You know what your blog post or comment did? It killed those seeds that his brother, mom and neighbor had been planting and watering for so long. Your pride (which is what judgement is) killed it.
Do you know what your comment on my newsfeed did? My family and friends, who many aren’t believers in Jesus, who I fight to love well (do it so imperfectly) and pray for, with tears that burn, to know Jesus, yes they see your comment and it instantly puts up a wall. A wall that was just starting to come down.
I get that’s not all on you or me (because I do it too). But you know what? It kind of is.
Why does it matter so much? Why does this person’s belief about ________ (not just today’s major headline, because tomorrow I guarantee you there will be another one), make you want to “fight for truth” so badly?
(Again, I'm NOT talking about topics (i.e. same sex marriage), just talking about our attitudes and responses to these topics.)
Today I posted a message encouraging others to not pull their donations to World Vision so quickly. I was just in El Salvador visiting 2 of the girls we sponsor through Compassion International, a similar organization. I have seen what an impact our monthly donation makes in these girls lives. My heart broke as I saw so many people pull out so quickly.
I had just seen what that knee jerk reaction would do. I knew it would take away their medical care. I knew it would take away the safe place to go after school. I knew it would take away the tutors that are changing their future. I knew it would take away the only voice that speaks about Jesus.
I can't even tell you the amount of comments, PMs, emails and texts I received that day from people rebuking me for my support of World Vision. What they didn't get is my support were for the kids.
One point in the article I received basically said that we need to draw a line in the sand when it comes to being tolerant and indecisive about things. That it is healthy to draw the line and choose a side and fight for your side.
The only line in the sand Jesus drew can be found in John 8: 1-11. Jesus didn't justify the woman's sin, in fact He was clear to rebuke and correct it privately at the end of his time with her. However, first He was very quick and clear to tell the people to stop fighting for what they perceive to be injustice. Guess what happened? They walked away unable to stand before the mirror placed in front of their own injustices, leaving Jesus to deal with the injustice of the women privately.
Listen, I totally get the value in debate and discussion. Do it. Please. I love a good healthy debate (just ask my husband). Debating and discussing things among brothers strengthens us. It has to be done within the parameters that have been set in the Word of God (again, the thing that we are arguing to begin with). So in specific environments it would be totally appropriate when both parties are invited to the table in brotherly love. Just to be clear a blog post or a Facebook comment is not that place, you are the only one invited to the table to debate. Which doesn't make it a fair debate, discussion or argument.
W.W.J.D. People? W.W.J.D.? (Please tell me you are laughing as you remember those colorful bracelets. So thankful I started following Jesus as this trend was waning.)
In 2014 I decided to focus on the gospels in my time of studying the Word. I realized the lines had really begun to blur in what I believed. Making it hard to decipher if my beliefs were from the Bible or good and well meaning messages from the church/my friends/my family/my favorite authors (again not at all bad things). I wanted to study the life of Christ (yes, still fully believing in the authority of the entire Bible, not just the gospels). I want so badly to know Him. and to really take note of what mattered to Him. What did He spend His time doing? Who did He spend His time with? What did He say and do most often? How did he say and do those things? You get the point.
I’m sad to say that I feel like we are spending a lot of our time becoming more and more like the Pharisees and the ones chanting “crucify him!” than Christ Himself and His followers. Maybe not as extreme or obvious but I see it in us, people of God.
Yes, we are imperfect. Yes we are human. But are we becoming more like Him or more like the ones he rebuked for lack of faith or pointed out their twisted words?
In each situation, I think it would do us good to ask ourselves: WWJD? Would He care about this situation (and I’m not saying He wouldn’t care)? How would He respond to it? Now since you aren’t the Son of God, how should you respond to it knowing what you know about what He would do?
Let us be known more for our love for one another and less for what divides us. If our focus was on love in each of theses situations and less on “defending truth” I believe (and this is me guessing) that so much more would be accomplished. Jesus said at the end of the day love God and love others. That’s what mattered most to Him. Yes MANY things mattered, even that thing you want to fight for, but one thing mattered most: love Him and love others (Matthew 22:36-40).
Is your love for God and love for others increased by your defense of truth?
Or is your defense of truth causing intellectual pride to separate you from the heart of God and callous words to drive a wall among others.
Finally let us be people of prayer and faith, trusting more in God and less in ourselves.
Last time I checked God is the same God that raised dead people, parted seas, demolished immoral cities, caused the water to cover the earth (saving only Noah and his immediate family), provided food for thousands from just a few fish and loaves of bread, walked on water and rose from the dead. The very same God. He can do it. He really and truly can. Let's ask Him to. Jesus set an example for us so often in the gospels beyond the Lord’s prayer: he retreated often and prayed. We are encouraged often all throughout the Word to pray and to have faith.
Let’s spend more energy begging God for redemption of _________, than rebuttals or arguments. Like real prayers, not just Facebook status update prayers. Just you and God praying.
In light of all that, I am not promoting tolerance. Rather I encourage us all to be abolitionists and teachers. I fully believe in fighting worthy battles. I believe God has called before and is calling today men and women to rise up and fight against injustice. So if you got from any of what I’ve said that we just need to circle up and sing the Barney theme song, then you haven’t heard me.
Sister. Brother. Please fight. Fight hard. Fight with all your strength to the point of you being weak because Christ promises His strength (the one we need) will kick in (2 Corinthians 12:9-11). Teachers, teach! Use your blog and social media to teach. Please "preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching" (2 Timothy 4:2). But let us not forget that verse 1 first states that Christ and God are the ones to judge the living and the dead.
Now dear friends, as my pastor often says, "Let's go to work." Let's go to work serving and loving God and others hard. Not ignorant of injustice, but fighting for Christ's glory and victory, not our own, in it.