I am regularly frustrated by the plethora of examples in this world, in our society, and in our media of Christians being jerks. Just today, I read a blog article about a couple who berated a gay Obama supporter about his vote and his sexual-orientation, all the while using the language of faith to do so. It sickens me. This is not what God wants of Christians, and it’s really not helpful regarding bringing people to faith.
So, what does God want? God wants us to follow and be faithful. This is the first commandment, the first thing God had to say to Moses about how to live as God’s people and the thing God repeatedly laments people are not doing (see: all of the prophets).
How do we do this?
- Do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8)
- To lose the chains of injustice, and untie the cords of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke… to give your food to the hungry and provide the homeless poor with shelter… (Isaiah 58)
- Love the Lord your God with all your heart, strength and mind and love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12, Luke 10, Matthew 22)
- Love one another because love is from God and everyone that loves is born of God and knows God. (1 John 4)
- Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christs sake has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32)
Here we have a little something from the prophets, the gospels (AKA stuff Jesus said and did) and the letters to the early church. God is a little repetitive on this point and Jesus came to try to clarify even further — because people were still missing the point. We still are missing the point. We are still paying more attention to the letter of the law than the purpose of the law. It’s tearing our churches, our traditions, and our nation apart — and yet we still don’t get it. Jesus said that the sum of all of the laws was that we should love God above all things and love our neighbors as ourselves.
Why isn’t this how we live? Why isn’t this what people see of us when we are on the street, on the news or on Facebook? By we, I mean all Christians? Why do we defer to judging (which Jesus totally says not to do), and being mean and then — the worst — disguising it as love? Why do we use “I’ll pray for you” as an insult?! What is wrong with us?!!! What are our churches teaching that leads us to be so mean, spiteful, callous, uncaring and downright awful? Cause that ain’t what Jesus calls us to be. It’s not what he taught and it’s not how he lived.
Look, I know that there are a lot of things upon which we can’t agree. And I get it, sort of. I understand that Christians who believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God and Christians who believe the Bible is the inspired word of God have a really wide gap between us. It can be really, really hard to talk over that gap. And I get that because of this literalism some people can’t believe homosexuality is a part of God’s gift of human sexuality. I get that there are a lot of things we all read in(to) the Bible and believe are Truth and we cling to them because these things are the pillars of our faith, they are what hold us together when everything is falling apart. I get it.
What I don’t get is how the main pillar we all cling to is not God’s love shown to us in Christ Jesus, how it isn’t the self-sacrificing love of the Christ who told us explicitly to love our neighbors, who told us not to judge one another and who showed love to the most despised of society. How is that not the main pillar of our faith — of all of our faiths, literalists and non-literalists alike? How is that not what supports and holds up our faith and our life day after day? How is it that we are, instead, clinging to an obscure law in Leviticus (while ignoring all the laws around it) or to some unwritten command to tell everyone about their sins, loudly and vehemently? How are these the things we are communicating as church leaders and laypeople? This isn’t rhetorical. I really want to know. How did the face of Christianity become so mean — and what can we do to change it?
Jesus’ love should be the pillar we cling to and the bridge that allows Christians to talk across the divide of literalism. Why isn’t it? More importantly, why isn’t it the way we live every day as a witness to the love that was given to us?
Some help here?