In recent times, both globally and personally, it seems like calling myself “Christian” has turned into something like a bad word. The recent same-sex ruling, planned parenting, the ongoing ISIS crisis, and even within the so-called church around the world, there are divisions and self-righteous “lashing out” from both the liberals and conservatives. All of which are not helping in my identity to be called a Christian. Closer to home, in trying to encourage better Christian orthodoxy and deeper theology, I was told I came across as arrogant and proud. There’s just no way to win!
And yet, in the poem found typed into this anonymous clipping above, the writer reminds me that “Yes!” there is no way to win. Because I am not here to win. I am here to know that I am a Christian because I can’t… win. I’m too weak. I am too sinful. I have no right to tell others what to do. Ultimately it is not about winning or finding favour in this world. It’s about a sinner receiving grace. And after receiving this grace, still know that until Christ comes again, I am going to keep on screwing up, stumbling along and trying my best to use my weakness for His glory.
The latest revelation to me about this whole situation is the fact that in our current culture it is hard to understand that it is possible to stand firm in one’s belief in truth that seems to oppose another and yet to love that person unconditionally – at the same time! This is the type of love and grace that God showed us and its the type of love and grace that when I call myself Christian, I am meant to mimic. However, this concept, I found, boggles people’s minds! Even supposed “veteran” Christians! In our world of cause-effect and conditional logic, grace and love in action by Christians makes no sense to people. “There’s no free lunches!” as they say. It is nonsensical logic to the world when we speak up about truth and what is right and holy according to the bible in our views, we love these people we speak up against. We speak up so therefore logic dictates we hate these people who has an opposite view. “Love thine enemy” is to love their soul so that they can be saved and not “love them for who they are no matter what”. It is nonsensical because grace changes the world’s formula to cause and effect, we can be speaking words of truth in rebuke and yet love you at the same time. This love is deeper than a shallow love that is tossed around like waves. This love is not a feeling. This love is the undercurrent that drives our premeditated words and actions towards “putting ourselves out there”. This is an active love. Why bother? We do this so that we can get you to see Jesus so that you can be saved or grow in your correct love for Him if you are Christian.
So… if you are at the receiving end of my words that seems to be rubbing I-am-a-Christian-and-this-is-my-view at you. Or if you are a Christian and I seem to be saying I-am-a-better-Christian-than-you-here’s-why (which is not what I meant to begin with). Know this: when I say “I am a Christian” in this way, I’m not trying to be proud or think I’m greater than you. I am fully aware of my sinful pride and weaknesses. When I say “I am a Christian”, I am putting myself out there in preparation that I will get hurt so that perhaps, in a small way, God can use my actions and words to win you back to him or to point you in growing your knowledge of him.
Now for the other Christians reading this… If you have been calling yourself Christian and have been taking “pot shots” in social media regarding any of the recent hot topics, read the above clipping again a few times. Search your heart if your thoughts and actions are grounded in Christ’s love and grace. If not, repent and keep reading the clipping a few more times. If they are grounded by love and grace and you truly love the people you have been engaging with, then take heart with these words from Paul to the Romans:
“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Romans 12:9-21 ESV