This weekend, Pastor Chuck prayed about the recent events in our country. From the families of those killed in the church massacre in South Carolina, to the families of the nine killed in the Alaska plane crash, and the SCOTUS decision changing the way our government views marriage. When you open your computer, turn on the radio, or overhear conversations at the store, there is no shortage of topics for people to ponder and pray over.
I have witnessed a lot of vitriol over the past few days, both from non-believers and believers. We are all human. We all have voices longing to be heard and passionate beliefs we wish to share. My circle of acquaintances spans the political, social, religious, and cultural gaps. Because of the diversity of people in my life, I have heard and seen more than I care to pass on to you—but take my word when I tell you it has been heart-wrenching and nauseating all at once. I have prayed for peace, wisdom, and patience as I attempt to be loving, even when every ounce of myself wants to hide and shut the door on it all. “But God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7). I thank God for His patience and love toward me, because I know if He considers me, in all my wretchedness, worthy of love, then I can never deny extending that same love to others, regardless of how they feel about Christians.
I try not to spend a great deal of time perusing the land of Facebook, because I have found it does not make me more like Jesus in my thoughts. More often than not, it also creates a very false reality for people, but I do have a Facebook account, like many others. Lately, my screen has been flooded with a colorful variety of pictures, language, and hateful words being spoken about the God I love, and a very false representation of what His Word says. While my initial response is deep hurt over the lack of understanding, compassion, and grace toward people who do not share the same views, my follow up thought is the cliche phrase “hurting people hurt people.” Despite the anger poured out against our beliefs, we must share the grace of Christ with those desperately in need. Our children are watching, as are all the people in our social circles, to see how we—as self-proclaiming followers of Jesus—will engage with them as they persecute and throw verbal insults at us. We must recognize that people are afraid of what they do not know, and anger is typically a mask for hurt. Whether or not we have personally been responsible for people’s wounded perceptions of Christians, we have the opportunity now more than ever, to show what it means to turn the other cheek and to give the glory to God by the way we react—or do not react.
We are not on a political crusade. We are on a spiritual crusade and being sanctified along the way. No matter what the news brings to our doorstep, what is inside our homes and hearts has the ultimate power over our lives. I desire for my children to see and know that love wins because of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection. Love came and conquered all for us. I am no more to God than the next. I (and you) must remember to be humbled by the reality of what He has done for us and pray that we can humbly extend His grace to others because, ultimately, His love wins.
“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:4-11.
Focusing on the Goal,