After a week away from the digital world, I was welcomed back by a plethora of sentiments ranging from celebratory to downright hateful on my social media feeds, coming from various views and pointing out various ideals. Before writing this post any further though, I’m first leaving this verse here for everyone who believes in God and in how He wants us to respond throughout all the aspects of our lives:
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-7 NIV)
It is my belief and experience that the emptiness and longing for love we feel is because we were all created with a God-shaped hole in our hearts that only He can fill. It is also my stand (and Jesus’ example and command) to treat everyone, regardless of their views, with love. Reading and hearing some comments in light of recent events though, make me realize that in our mission to defend what we believe in and protect our faith, we sometimes lose this point of doing things in love–as we segment our audience, focusing on condemning some, causing them to flee long before they’ve even heard the Gospel or felt the love of the Savior. If we identify as Christians, shouldn’t our role be to reflect Christlike love to everyone, and not just to the ones we’ve handpicked because it is more convenient for us? I will be the first one to attest this is not an easy feat–but the Christian life has never really been about going for the easy, which is where His grace and power come in. I do not profess to know everything about Christianity, but I do know we cannot change people, as there is only One capable of transforming our hearts and minds. I also remember Jesus preventing the stoning, not hurling the stones. He told the woman to ‘go and sin no more’, but this was after she experienced his grace, as he saved her from death and condemnation (telling the Pharisees, ‘let he who has not sinned cast the first stone’). Through Jesus’ example I don’t think we have to choose between compassion and faith. Instead I believe compassion should be borne FROM faith–because faith tells us we are all as filthy as rags who need a Savior to wipe us clean.
This is just the two cents of a very filthy rag speaking from experience, who probably would have found it much harder to turn to Jesus in my darkest hour had I personally been subjected to some of the horrible, hateful things I hear and read a lot about especially these days. The Christian walk is a personal relationship. When we realize we are sinners and accept Jesus into our lives that’s when he begins his work in us and the transformation and trust take place–but even then it takes a lot of time and stumbling blocks along the way. So why are we expecting that others trust and accept Him quickly upon our saying so, and even more, how can we expect others to turn to Him in their time of need when He is sometimes represented in such a hateful, condemning way? I am forever grateful for the people in my life who exhibited the love Jesus had even when I believed differently from them, and were patient and understanding as I asked about their faith and let me realize on my own that I needed Him in my life too. Sometimes we forget that trusting is hard and it is essentially impossible until the person has begun a personal encounter with Him whom we are asking them to trust. And so we are called first and foremost to love so we can be a reflection of the love that God has for all of us–believers or not. The kind of love that casts out fear–of ignorance, of hate, of feeling unwanted or unwelcome.
On another note, I also cannot stay silent on the mockery and blatant degradation of the faith I stand for. I’ve seen a handful of photos and comments that malign my Lord and Savior–the One who personally saved me from wanting to die, and who transformed my life and billions of others’ inside out with his sacrifice on the cross. My Jesus, the Jesus of the Bible, and the Jesus that history books and scholars affirm to have walked the earth, has been reduced to distasteful memes and blasphemous portrayals, and it is heartbreaking to say the least. This is not to create sweeping generalizations about how the community acts and thinks–I have LGBT friends and relatives whom I enjoy amazing friendships with and are fueled with the same desire to love, respect and care for others–but it is to show that there are people from all camps capable of inciting hurt whether unknowingly or not, and that we can do our part in helping them understand respect, instead of turning a blind eye because they support the cause we fight for.
I have contemplated and prayed long and hard about posting anything at all, not wanting to be misinterpreted and not to add any kind of fuel to the fire, but it is alarming to see firsthand how divisive this world has become. I think we can all do better to promote whatever we believe in without compromising our primary duty as human beings to respect one another. Furthermore as a Christian, I am called to love others and share the Gospel–that we are all sinners in need of a Savior and that we have that savior in Christ who sacrificed himself FOR US ALL. That no matter who we are and what we’ve done we can always turn to Jesus, who gave his life for us so we can experience a loving relationship with our Creator. How the people we share the Gospel with will receive it is between them and God, or them and their belief, but I am called, above all, to love them still.
Please note that I write this out of concern, not with the intent to diminish my faith, nor belittle anyone else’s beliefs. A lot has been and will continue to be written about the matter, but I write also to remind myself and those I can reach that though we may have our personal convictions we can voice them out in a manner that treats people as people–regardless of their views, age, race, or gender–because we are all going through life and none of us are devoid of feelings. Yes we are entitled to our own opinions, yes we have different beliefs and varying degrees of awareness, but I deeply hope we can all agree on this: that the world is broken and it will never be mended by ignorance, hate, and putting down others for the sake of feeling good about ourselves.