Ok, so you know how I sometimes go places I shouldn’t in thought land and stick my neck out even when I know it’s risky? I’ve been pondering some things lately, and I asked myself this question: “Why, as Christians, do we feel the need to point out our disagreement with some people’s life styles?” And by people I in particular mean gay people. Although the thought applies in general. I mean I don’t walk up to an overweight acquaintance or friend and say – God condemns gluttony, I don’t condone your lifestyle but I still love you. So why in the world do we find it necessary to say that to a gay acquaintance? (And honestly few things have done more damage to holiness, the family, or marriage than greedy attitudes. Certainly, so called gay marriage isn’t nearly the risk that greed is for eroding the family.)
Are we so afraid that if we don’t let everyone know the things we’re against they’ll think we ‘condone’ them? Life change happens best in relationship. We only get to talk about people’s personal lives when we have the permission born of intimate relationship. We really need to understand that. If we want to speak to the ‘issue’ of homosexuality then we need to be friends with gay people and earn the right to speak (says the woman writing a book with a gay protagonist, I struggle with following my own advice – often).
That applies to every area of life. How many children someone has, whether a mom works or stays home, people’s eating, drinking, smoking habits, etc., those conversations happen best in a close personal relationship. Which is why community is so important.
I’m not saying that in the church we shouldn’t hold others accountable or be held accountable. Holiness is God’s desire and plan for us. He’s committed to making us holy people. Certainly we should engage one another in conversations that challenge and stimulate obedience to God’s word. But that requires discernment, humility, and gentleness.
I feel so terribly raw lately. It seems my ears have a lifetime of critical words clogged in them. And honestly my own mouth has uttered a grotesque amount of my own.
I long for kindness. I long for gentle attitudes toward one another in the church. I’m guilty, I confess, of harsh thoughts. But I want “I understand” conversations, instead of “you ought” judgments. And for the world – what if we bathed the wounds of people who are different than us, like the good Samaritan did, rather than pass by like the pharisee because we don’t ‘agree’ with who they are. What if our mercy convicted? Because I’m not sure I’ve ever seen proclaimed moral rectitude change a heart.
How we as Christians relate to each other is different than how we relate to the world. But the truth is I think as Christians we are often more concerned with a code of conduct and behavior than with a high view of Jesus. But a high view of who Jesus is produces a humble understanding of who we are, a desire to be holy, and overflows in mercy to everyone. Those who live pure lives in winsome ways are the most compelling.
The truth is, my biggest fear in life, as a laborer in the church, is religiosity. The force of religiosity breeds judgement that quite frankly is deadly. I fear a love for religion taking up residence in my own heart. I know the consequences. Religion kills grace, promotes self righteous judgement, and breeds a fear of others.
But grace. It’s the antidote to religion. Oh it’s so hard to live in. But it heals the heart!