Battle lines have been drawn.
Christians on this side. Those “sinners” on the other.
We fight against someone because they are gay, or Muslim, or support abortion. We take what we believe to be right – our convictions – and demand that others toe those lines. We insist that the commands given to us are for all to follow. Then, when they object or disagree, they become the opposition. They are now, as the Pharisees shouted, “Unclean!”
Is this what we have become? Pharisees? Not all of us, for sure. But, a whole lot of us. Too many of us. Loudly. The 2016 Presidential race has made many of these modern-day Pharisees a bit more obvious.
Even within the Church, we are divided. I follow this doctrine, they follow that one. I surely can’t agree with what they are taught, so I certainly can’t associate with them. This denomination has better doctrines than that one. This church has “more dynamic” speakers, that church has better educated speakers. The one down the street allows gay people, while the one downtown would never have “those kind” there.
We like the battle. We seem to thrive on the battles we have created. The truth is, instead of thriving, we are weakening the Church and repelling those outside the Church.
Oh, yes. It is we who have created the lines. No, not the scriptures. Not the lack of prayer in schools. Not the Gay Rights activists. Not the Pro-Choice folks. It has been the Church.
Jesus never drew battle lines. For that matter, He crossed over the lines the Pharisees and their merry men had firmly created and upheld.
He touched the lepers.
He befriended a Samaritan woman (half-breed dog) and a tax collector (traitor).
He defended a whore.
He stood up to the Pharisees.
I suppose we know better than He. Many among our ranks have been communicating, clearly, more of what they are against. So much so, that it isn’t is clear what they are for. We have taken the idea of Ephesians 6:10-18 (the armor of God) as an opportunity to polish the metaphorical armor or fight one another…and our neighbors.
I know I have some redundancies in my posts. But, I am trying to communicate how seriously we need to get back to the idea of love. Loving our neighbor. Loving one another. God’s love, that He has for us and put in us.
At what point does love draw a battle line?
Where does love say someone is “less than”?
Does love verbally bash anyone?
Does love select who gets served or prayed for and who does not?
What part of love speaks against people, for any reason?
Wait a minute there, you. What about ‘speaking truth in love’?
Speaking the truth in love. Love. Love means, in essence, personal agenda is set aside. When we insist on being right, forcing our point or our agenda, we are not acting in love. Therefore, when we judge, malign, accuse and insist our way is a must, we do not speak in love, at all.
What God revealed about love to Paul…
- Does not envy (not mere jealousy)
- Does not boast
- Is not arrogant
- Is not rude
- Does not insist on its own way
- Not irritable (thin skinned, touchy)
- Not resentful (holding a “record of wrongs”)
This only covers verses 4 and 5 of 1st Cor. 13, but these are the aspects of love that we need to examine, embrace and put into practice. As it stands, many of us walk in something that does not look like love, at all. What we are left with is a bunch of us being impatient, unkind, envious, boastful, arrogant, rude, insisting on our way (Christian nation, anyone?), irritable and/or holding offenses over people.
If we act/live in love, battle lines would no longer exist.
This is not that feel good, mushy kind of crap. This is practical, to the core.
It is not about agreeing with everyone. It is about respect and being undaunted by the beliefs, lifestyles, speech and actions of others.
It’s about imitating Jesus.
He would build a house for a gay couple. He would comfort a woman who considers an abortion. He would invite the unmarried couple, who live together, over for a meal. He would hang out with Muslims to watch football.
It is also about maturity.
Notice, near the end of 1 Corinthians 13, after all that talk about love… “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.” It would seem that putting others before oneself is a mature thing to do.
Children are all about, “I want!”, “Me!”, “Mine!” As they grow and learn, they begin to see there is a whole world, out there. If they are raised well, they begin to see the needs of others, they are taught to share and be considerate.