Song of the Month: Glory- by Common and John Legend
Christian life equation:
If Jesus = Love
Christian= Disciple of Jesus
Christian= Disciple of love
So why do we sometimes seem so angry? When we represent something, whether it’s God or a chocolate chip cookie, wouldn’t it make sense to consider our curb appeal?
What if we went outside our social box and took a survey where we asked two questions of total strangers…but not strangers at our church. Strangers at a public place, even a public internet place, if that’s easier.
1.What’s the first thing that you think of when you hear the word, “Christian”?
2. What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the words, “Chocolate chip cookie”?
It doesn’t matter what order you do it in.
And wait and see… I’m sure some of the answers may make us feel proud, while others might make us angry.
Now what might the answers be from someone who has never tasted a chocolate chip cookie, but only ever read about them on Facebook?
What if their only frame of reference about chocolate chip cookies was our Facebook posts? Would they come away tempted? Tantalized? Curious, at least?
…And you see where I’m going with this. What would someone unfamiliar with Christianity come to understand about us if Facebook was all they had to reference?
Would they come away thinking we are a loving group? Would they know what we DO believe in?
Or would they see an angry community? Would they feel our Judgement before God’s Love, or God’s Love before our Judgement?
Would they know more about our views on Oprah Winfrey, Obama, and Gluten, than they do about the outworking of Grace and forgiveness in our lives, marriages and friendships?
Every 100 years or so, the Church has to sit back and listen to their echo. Sometimes we have to close our mouths long enough to hear the silent cry of the ones Christ spoke about when He said, “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.”
Like us, I’m sure the 1st century church had their hot topics: The freakin-dang Roman government, meat sacrificed to idols, circumcision, talkative women busting in on the previous Men’s Only club, and so on. (Corinthians, Galatians, Romans, Ephesians, Etc.)
Yet time and again, the writer of the Epistles had to draw the believers’ attention back to Christ and who He is amidst a broken humanity. The Discipler of Love didn’t focus on the Brokenness, but His own wholeness embraces rather than excludes. The Gospel became The Good News, rather than the, “Yes, but…” news the Pharisees were preaching. (ie: woman found in Adultery, Thief on the Cross, a Kiss to Judas’ Cheek.)
I know. I know. This makes us sooooo afraid! But there are always “Yes, buts” when we dip our own dirty fingers into the Grace plate. Because we spend most of our time thinking, reading, and mulling over our own weaknesses and those of a sinful humanity, we have a lot of “But what about,” phrases rolling off our lips.
But…if we are Disciples of Love and Disciples of Christ, then it follows we must be representing a beyond ‘moral’, life threatening, irrational, non-human kind of love. And to be honest, that gets everyone, myself included, a bit squirmy and uncertain about where the “Boundaries” and “Tough Love” fall into place.
As bouncing, budding, buttheads, we humans love more than anything in all the world to justify our anger….and yes of course there are many things in our world to feel justifiably angry about.
But this world needs so, so, so much more…
More of our ability to do the opposite of what they think we are going to do.
More of this supernatural, transforming kind of love that’s hiding in our salvation tool belt.
More of the kind of love Christ taught us when we first said, “Hell, ya!” (or something worse) when someone asked us if we wanted to know Jesus.
There is something powerful that happens when we lay down our life, and rather than singing “Witchy Woman” in order to get our way, we love those who offend us.
Am I just speaking a bunch of high and flighty, unrealistic ideals here, people?
Well, perhaps to a world void of the Holy Spirit, yes. But like Mulder Says to Scully in the X-Files, “We’re not alone here”. We got a secret weapon.
And if we live with our mind in this world only, we will let its human laws govern our temperaments, marriages, families, and Facebook page. Their hot topics will burn a fear into us, and we will respond according to the fear they decide we should feel. Our anger will also be governed by what others do or do not do. And it will be in that exact spot of anger, where we will become powerless to offer acceptance to those who we feel deserve our rejection.
And where is the Good News in that?
Maybe we just don’t yet understand our own salvation. Honestly, no matter how long I live as a Christian who believes in God’s grace, I still struggle with giving it when it’s most needed.
Maybe, like the early church, we’re still afraid of the kind of love Christ offered. After all, He didn’t fight like we might have expected Him to fight. And, it had Him killed. And, we very much want to live.
I wonder what would have been the Facebook posts about Christ from Christians in His day?
“The idiot Government strikes again!”
“Now’s the time to speak out!”
“How many Roman Dogs does it take to…”
Let’s listen to what Christ said:
“On the Evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”-John 20:19
When Jesus appeared to his disciples he could have said anything. But the one major thing recorded wasn’t “knock em dead” or “Speak super loudly about all you disagree with in this world” or “fight the good fight”. Strangely, it wasn’t even, “Keep yourself from sin.”
The one thing above all others, encompassing all others, was the words, “Peace be with you.”
And the one thing to Peter?
Peter, the angry, militant, political, zealous, lambasting, swordsman?
“Peter, do you love me?”…
…“Feed my sheep.”
Oh us silly toddlers really want to help out our great heavenly Father! We have so many great ideas! But like Peter with his ear slicing swordsmanship, sometimes we hit the target, without hitting the mark.
This world needs Christians to feed it with God’s peace. This world needs to know that God is love.(1 John 4:8) That concept wasn’t too simplistic and idealistic for our God when he laid down every ounce of power and all his rights and did the opposite of what was expected.
“Forgive them Father” (Luke 23:34)
“Peace be with you”
“Do you love me?”
“Feed my sheep”.
If we pass on peace to the fearful, pregnant woman, perhaps we save a baby’s life as well as the mother’s.
If we learn to pass on Peace to the nations in conflict, we build bridges instead of promoting more buildings being blown up.
If we are called to feed, we are called to wear the badge of, “Peace be with you.”
We can go on and attempt to justify all other things, like Peter, ready to cut the enemy down to size and FIGHT!
But fighting is born of fear,and a desire to take control. Peace changes the tides, and changed tides move mountains.
(Why does this last sentence sound like Yoda to me?… never mind, read it again..)
“Your Kingdom come on Earth as it is in Heaven.”
That’s the end game. Let’s keep our eyes on the prize and not on the enemy.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” -Gal. 5:22,23