Christians? Haters. Bigots. Hypocrites. Party-poopers. Wet blankets.
I’ve heard it all before. I come from an arts school and creative background, so I have friends — many friends, in fact – who hold very liberal worldviews and lifestyles. It was clear as day that we were different. We lived completely different lives, stood for absolutely different causes, and our Sundays were definitely spent differently.
But as different as we were, these people were also my classmates. My peers. My friends.
Many of my friends make fun of me being Christian – “are you sure by being near us you won’t become less holy?” – while some openly attack Christianity as if I wasn’t there. The negative impression they have of the Church and those in the Church is obvious enough.
I often wonder which aspect of my faith repulses them.
I love these friends of mine, I really do. While I may not endorse and subscribe to their way of living, I accept them and respect them as my friends. I celebrate and rejoice in life’s milestones with them, and my heart breaks with theirs when something goes wrong.
But while I love them as my friends, I’ve found this isn’t fully reciprocated. Friends have shunned me just because I’m a Christian. The vibe is that they can’t trust me, like I’m a spy planted by the Church, or a time bomb, waiting to unleash my doctrine and condemnation on them.
They withhold a part of themselves from me. And I get it: It’s just what they’ve experienced before – when others have done just that, passing judgement on them and preaching to them a set of rules, telling them what to do and what not to do with their lives.
I can’t blame them.
The strange thing, though, is that most of my Christian friends are not the loud and militant Christians we hear of in the media. Quite the opposite: They are mostly silent. The gist is: “Best to keep quiet in case we say the wrong things.”
I guess I understand their response. We Christians have been on the receiving end of much flak. It probably pays to be careful.
But silence is usually read as consent. So when they choose to stay mum on any issue, that is seen as a lack of protest. Agreement.
Most of my Christian friends are not the loud and militant Christians we hear of in the media. Quite the opposite: They are mostly silent.
It’s sad. The current state of our culture is plagued by division. Anyone who disagrees with the Left is automatically put on the Right (what’s really right anyway?). If you aren’t for us, you must be against us. On the other hand, those on the Right see compromise and kiasi-ness – spinelessness – in anyone who doesn’t get red-faced and stand up for the causes they believe in. If you aren’t against us, you must be for us.
But as a Christian, I camp on neither of these sides.
The Church isn’t called to accommodate culture. No – the Gospel is offensive. Tweaking it to accommodate culture means you water down the Gospel. It means you’re only preaching grace and not Truth. The angels in heaven aren’t singing “Grace, grace, grace”. They are singing “Holy, holy, holy” (Revelation 4:8).
The Bible is about grace/love and truth. They go together like peanut butter and jelly. Batman and Robin. Kaya and toast. We must engage culture with love but also with truth.
We speak the truth in love to war against this present-day dichotomy of worldviews. We’re not the Left. We say, this is wrong. We’re not the Right. We say, you are loved. Which means we say simultaneously: This is wrong and I love you.
The love and truth of Jesus Christ cannot be contained in a bunch of rules, an event or even a colour.
We’re far worse than we ever imagined, and far more loved than we could ever dream.
— Timothy Keller (@timkellernyc) February 15, 2015
Timothy Keller put it so well. In the Bible, #lovewins, but not in the way people tout these days.
Love! Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails! (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
Jesus is in the business of transforming lives through love. No matter a person’s life choices, social status, or even sexual preferences, life transformation results from the journey with Him – not from merely changing into a different set of clothes before embarking on the journey.
It is sad and ironical that in our pursuit of love today, so little love is demonstrated. We put people down in order to get our point across. We slap labels onto one another because we can’t see eye to eye.
I may totally disagree with you on what brings true happiness and I will always live by my own personal convictions as a Christian, but I cannot dictate your thoughts and choices. Maybe others have tried to do so. Not me. Who am I to tell you what to do?
If God was in the business of condemnation He would’ve sent a condemner, but instead He sent a Saviour.
Because that’s not what God called me to do. We are all familiar with John 3:16, but I take my cue from the verse that follows: For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:17)
If God was in the business of condemnation He would’ve sent a condemner, but instead He sent a Saviour. A Saviour to save our souls through unmerited love.
My role, my responsibility, is then to love people enough to care about their eternal souls. That’s not telling anyone what to think. It’s just telling them what I think – beyond that, it’s their life.
At the end of the day it seems like we’re all after the same thing: Love. I choose the love that doesn’t hold people down, but sets them free.