May 29, 2013
When I was a kid I was a pretty accomplished liar. Now I realize that most of us as youngsters had our moments, but if my memory serves me correctly I had more than moments… I’m pretty sure I had minutes and hours, and days… if you know what I mean. I know about lying. Lying takes over your life. After a while you begin to lie about things that you don’t even need to lie about. It’s amazing how some folks can keep their lies all organized and consistent… like they have a file cabinet in their brain entitled “lies I have told and how to keep them all straight.” Sometimes as an adult it’s difficult to not feel ashamed for things I did as a young person… maybe that sounds silly given some of these things happened over 50 years ago. I guess I “wish” I had been a better kid than I was.
You likely know this, but there are individual lies and corporate lies. The individual lies are those I referred to above. Corporate lies are those untruths propagated by a group of people wittingly or unwittingly. I want to mention what I believe is one of the largest most damaging corporate lies being spread in our country. This lie has caused untold grief and division in the Church and is the basis for many outside the Church who view us in ways that are negative and untrue. Ready? Here is the lie: “You cannot disagree with someone and still love them.” To express descent with another’s opinions on any subject is tantamount to saying “I hate you for not being who I think you should be.” No doubt there are some radical fringe churches who preach a “gospel of hate”, but can we agree that those churches, even though they garner WAY too much attention, are far and away the exception!? I think most folks who call themselves Christian really want to be loving and kind even though we aren’t always so good at it.
That being said… sometimes being loving and kind means telling the truth (or at least what I understand to be the truth) in love. But our culture, which has totally distorted and misused the term “toleration”, has chosen to teach that anything outside of consent, approval or condoning of another’s values or behavior is a “hate crime.” Thankfully that standard doesn’t apply to my family (or most families I know) lest some of my thoughts about the activities of my kids and others of their generation would be considered “hate crimes.” Get it? I’m allowed to disagree with folks. And I’m even allowed to express that disagreement. Well at least in the America I grew up in I was allowed to. But as a Christian I will not and must not express my disagreement hatefully. I need to recognize that we are ALL broken and we are ALL in need of God’s mercy and grace. My disagreement with others needs to be expressed with love and compassion, not hate and judgment.
The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of “good news” and “grace.” It is not a gospel of mean spiritedness, hate, anger, selfishness, or self righteousness. Don’t get me wrong… we absolutely need to preach and teach the truth of Jesus Christ. And we need to model the lives that God commands of us. But the truth is this… we are not responsible for the end. God will sort out whatever He needs to sort out. It is not our task to “fix” the world, but only to be faithful to Gods calling in our lives. Don’t misunderstand, when I say “fix the world” I am talking about values and Biblical truth, not about involvement in ministry. We absolutely are called to “fix” whatever we can in regard to the plight of the poor, elderly, mentally ill, homeless…
Rather than spew venom as we try to force others into the mold that made us… maybe we need to figure out what God has in store for our own lives and get on with that agenda. And that agenda is very likely not making images of ourselves.