Love thy Neighbor
“This is sacrifice....This is an arrogant disrespectful jerk....” The words from the meme were a jolt to my senses. Depicted in one image was a military funeral with the words “this is sacrifice” , and in the second, was the image was a man along with the insults. The man has name. He has an occupation. A job he does. He has a family. He is someone’s child. He is God’s child.
Does His Father look down from heaven at him, and say such things? Does He post images of the cross to demonstrate sacrifice? For if He did, would we not all fall into the second category. For sure, not all of us are paid millions like footballers, but aren’t all of us jerks in contrast?
Regularly I face my own parents. They want to know why the Church stands with hate, and tolerates injustice. For even as non-believers they know that a disciple of Christ, a Christian, is one who seeks to be like their teacher, their Lord; Who lived as He lived and loves as He loved. A journey so challenging, and so filled with missteps. One filled with repentance as we fall short of the glory of God. Those times when we do not do as we ought, or do as we ought not.
I tell them that Christ does not represent those things, but pictures say a thousand words. I want to show them Jesus, the one who said “love thy neighbor” (Mark 12:31) but try as I might, there are so many who are portraying a different Jesus. For I am not sure that Jesus looked at people and called them jerks. True, He did call the Pharisees children of the Devil (John 8:44. Butterflies and sparkles did not always flow from His lips, but divine truth from the one who knew the hearts of those with whom he spoke.
Do we really dare to make such sweeping statements about people so freely. So easily. Whether footballers or politicians. Red or Blue. Black or White.
Parents seek to teach children that we disagree with their behavior. We seek to teach them by pointing out their behavior. That hitting, hurting, and verbal abuse are not ok. We may dislike things that people do, but we do not degrade who they are. We separate the person and the behavior. One is teaching about a behavior, the other is an attack on the person themselves.
There are so many lessons that we have not embraced ourselves. For we bypass the opportunity to teach and head for the insults, posted to social media for everyone to see, as gossip talks about people instead of to a person. Rather than communication between people to bring about change and reconciliation as Jesus prescribes, our culture widens the rift.
The prophetic voice is a powerful gift that Jesus has given to His church, one to be used with discernment as we speak on His behalf. Paul was even clear to differentiate between the times he spoke as Paul recommending his best practices, as opposed to times he speaks prophetically about what the Church should believe and speak. It helps people looking in to know who said what.
So if we post disparaging things as a Christian, do we not do it in the name of Christ for do we not speak as disciples? Perhaps a disclaimer may be highly appropriate; “It is not Christ that says this, but I.” Perhaps then those looking in would see that hate does not speak for Christ or the Church, nor are such outpourings truly seeking to engage in the Christlike acts of reconciliation or correction.
For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. (Luke 6:45)
If we would like to bear fruit as the church, surely we must engage in conversation not gossip. Listening not insulting. Building up not degrading. And loving our neighbor- who is culturally different to ourselves.
And surely we must find those words of love, if that is how we want the Church and our Lord Jesus to be known.
Disclaimer: These words written are human words and thoughts, strive as I do to seek those of Christ. May they be for His glory.