Well, here we are. *Who’da thunk it? After nearly two year of an endless barrage of ads, debates, monologues, and lots of nonsense, this whole “elect a new leader of the free world” circus has come to an end.
But for Christians, the time to work is just beginning. (Something which could, and probably should, be said every day.)
About half of this country is happy and hopeful. But a pretty large portion of the other half is worried. Terrified, even. They’re worried about discrimination. Worried their rights will be taken away. Worried they’ll no longer be seen as humans. Worried about persecution.
That’s a sad thing. What I find particularly troubling though is that the object of these fears, the people they fear will be persecuting them, are the Christians. And that breaks my heart. Not because I believe it’s true. I believe that most Christians I know are kind, compassionate people who would never intentionally marginalize someone. They’re the types of people who might disagree with people, but are still willing to love them, to help them however they can, despite said disagreements.
But it breaks my heart because people believe it’s true. Because a few, loud individuals have muddied the name of Christ and made it mean something it doesn’t. And the good done in His name no longer matters because some people aren’t willing to believe what they haven’t personally seen. Whatever you believe about Christianity and persecution, it should be easy enough to acknowledge that those who claim to follow Christ should never, never be on the side that’s doing the persecuting. (Really. Never, ever.)
The behavior of Christians can largely boil down to two things: truth and love. The truth shaping our love. Our love reinforcing the truth. It’s easy to get caught up in one or the other. To allow truth to slip away because our love can’t stand the possibility of hurting someone. To lose sight of love because we’re so focused on the truth.
The truth of the matter is we have to have both. “Love…does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Cor. 13:6).
Disclaimer in case some misunderstand: We can’t lose sight of truth. God’s truth, and not our own. God is compassionate, but also demands that when we commit our lives to Him, we really commit every part of ourselves to His will and His desires. So I’m by no means advocating that we lose sight of that.
But we also can’t expect those in the world who haven’t made that commitment to live the same way we do. Why would they play by the rules of a game they don’t believe exists? If our job is to save souls, which it is, then our job isn’t to begin by explaining the rules to the bystanders. It starts with making them feel welcome to play.
It doesn’t matter if you believe that people shouldn’t feel afraid. It doesn’t matter if you believe their concerns aren’t valid. It doesn’t matter if you think they’re wrong, stupid, needlessly worried, or being overdramatic. The truth is, there are people who believe that Christians are out to get them. That you are the persecutor. And it’s your job to prove them wrong.
Now, even more than before, Christians need to be kind. We need to shine with Christ’s example of truth, yes, but especially love and compassion and mercy. There is a time for many things. There is a time to do battle, but I believe that right now is the time for peace. Show those in your life who are afraid that they don’t need to be afraid of you. And hopefully by doing so, you’ll help build the reputation of the name of Christ instead of bringing it down.
“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” (1 Cor 9:19-23).
Being right is easy. Digging in your heels and ignoring those are hurting, while rejoicing in your own rightness, is easy. Sticking to the truth while still showing those who are hurting how much you love them? Not easy. It’s really, really hard. But it’s worth it. Because that’s the only way to reach people. Be compassionate today. Love somebody today. You represent God to the world. Make that mean something, instead of just being mean.
There’s a season for many things. Right now is a season for kindness and compassion. Do the hard thing, the worthwhile thing. The world is broken. God isn’t. Go prove it.
“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”
*Not proper grammar.