Where to begin...
Over the last several months I have been faced with quite a few experiences that have been... rough. Everything from a misinterpretation of something I said, a flat out contestation of my faith, and, of course, all of "us versus them" happening within the broader Christian faith right now. So why have I not abandoned my church, my religion, my faith? How do we maintain our walk? How do we stay unified as the body of Christ? How do we join hands with people so blatently different from us? People we maybe see as "wrong?"
I read an article yesterday about how "liberals" and "conservatives" will never be able to come to the table - and this article was just discussing "liberals" and "conservatives" within Christianity! Not to mention those with varying relgious beliefs within our communities, our nation, and our world.
But I whole heartedly disagree.
If we are unable to come to the table to discuss issues, it has nothing to do with whether we are liberal or conservative or any other label you can think up - it has to do with pride.
The truth of the matter is that I am furious with Evangelicals deciding to withdraw sponsorships from children in need based purely on who the company hires, the Good Samaritan was not a believer and yet he was the one who was able to do the right thing - but here's the deal: just I as I don't believe those withdrawing from World Vision should do so based on judgement of individuals as "sinners," I should not judge them. I should call them to action and encourage them to continue to support those children that they previously made promises to, not because of World Vision, but because God calls us to care for the least of these. And if they truly feel so led to no longer support World Vision? I would encourage them to seek out another organization.
I can think whatever I want about their decision, I can be frustrated with how this makes our LGBT community members feel, I can even express anger about how this is protraying our faith to the rest of the world - but I am not ultimately the one who anyone will answer to. I don't have the corner on the Cornerstone. I don't have a backstage pass to morals and ethics. I don't get to judge. Thank the Lord Almighty, that it not my job.
If we can't come to the table and discuss this and other issues, that makes us equally pharisaical. "Truth in love" can only come through relationship, so we need to stop using it as an excuse to say hurtful things. Both to our brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as our brothers and sisters in humanity.
When I was younger, I made a lot of poor decisions (let's be honest, I still make some poor decisions). These decisions created rumours that ran rampant throughout my childhood church and youthgroup which led to some very serious judgemental statements made about and to me. Because of that, I walked away from the church, which I thought meant I was walking away from God. But here is what I found: 1. God will always come after you, even when you can't see it and don't believe it. And 2. Love always trumphs judgement.
Sometimes (a lot of the time), the church misrepresents Christ. And that sucks. But God does not need us to fight the church to protect Him, because that sends more mixed messages than helps and because He is God - He can fight His own battles. What God needs us to do is to love and care for people as He has called us - including those we disagree with. I know, for me, it is so much easier to love and care for people who do not call themselves Christians - but that doesn't give me a free pass to walk away from what I believe. I don't get to just distance myself and say "I'm not with them!" I get to love them, or at least to try vigorously.
Loving people doesn't mean not having hard conversations, it doesn't mean total consensus, it doesn't mean finality - it just means love. That is our call. To love. To love God, to love each other, to love the world. There will always be disagreements, there will always be frustrations, there will always be misrepresentation - but there also always needs to be love so that we can come to the table and discuss these things. Not just as Christians, but as humans.
(but luckily there's grace)