On Sunday, as I was listening to my pastor speak, he asked if we were weary, and my eyes filled with tears because I am weary.
I am so weary, and I’m guessing you find yourself in a similar place. I am exhausted, and it’s mostly with the way everyone is speaking to one another. And I’m mostly tired of Christians.
I’m so tired of Christians–and I don’t mean those who are out doing the work, feeding the homeless, loving the poor, caring for the orphan and widow–I am tired of Christians who believe their only ministry is to complain online about other Christians. I am weary from seeing tweet after tweet be an attack from one Christian to another who disagrees theologically. I am tired of the American Church thinking God is political–he is not political, He is Good, He is Holy, He is Just, and He is Sovereign.
Everyone seems to be diminishing their faith down to individual political statements that do nothing to coincide with action–it’s loud, distracting noise that further polarizes and makes the world ask if these people really just hate each other.
“They will know us by our love.” But they do not right now–you are not under persecution for tweeting something aggressive and rude and then being attacked for it. In spaces where the Church doesn’t suffer persecution, namely right now I’m talking about the American Church, we have convinced ourselves, for some reason, that we are suffering persecution. If you believe you are being persecuted on Twitter, delete Twitter–it is incredibly easy. Boom, your projected persecution, gone. “The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose.” (C.S. Lewis)
And if the Church is just arguing on social media…
That’s not at all reflective of who Jesus is.
You know what Isaiah 42 says about Jesus?
“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”
He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets.
Instead, Jesus sat with those who were very much living in a way that He didn’t condone. But He ate with them, and they loved Him because He was good.
Do you remember who did stand out in the streets, shouting? The Pharisees–they were not ministering to those who they knew needed God; they were screaming their opinions, shutting their doors, and facading righteousness around like a trophy.
The moment you believe you know and have all the correct, perfect opinions about Who God is and how the Church should look is the moment when you will begin to believe you are better than everyone else, and your opinions give you remarkable reason, all of a sudden, to bully, bruise, and burden other believers with incessant, self-righteous speech. Many of the people believing they are present sufferers of persecution are persisting the same behaviors they are receiving on other believers who don’t agree with them.
No, you’re not experiencing persecution because someone called you a name one time for being a Christian. Also, Jesus told us that would happen, so get off your high horse, grow a spine, and recognize that life is tough sometimes–people didn’t like Jesus, and he is God, so they certainly aren’t going to like you.
Persecution is being experienced by our brothers and sisters in China, Somalia, Libya, North Korea, Pakistan, India, Iran, Yemen, Sudan–would you like me to continue with this list because I can–where their lives are actually at risk everyday, where imprisonment is actually a very present reality, where being disowned, cutoff, and physically assaulted by family for following Christ is happening. And there are Americans experiencing isolation, being cutoff, and losing people, sometimes their lives (I think of church shooters, bombers) over their faith. But that is an anomaly in the US right now. One day, it probably won’t be, but right now, Christians in America don’t have to meet underground for fear that they will be killed by the reigning powers of the country. But we have brothers and sisters all over the world who do.
Sometimes I wish the American Church was actually under persecution, so the world would quit seeing the nonsense put out by the unchallenged, lukewarm, self-righteous American Christians. Maybe we would see revival if our phones weren’t our first reflex for relationships with the Lord. God does not need you to defend Him. If you feel so called to say something by Him, by all means, please do, listen to the Good Voice. But I can say rather confidently that God is not leaning over your shoulder, cheering you on, while you go on about the idiocy of other Christians because you have some points of disagreement.
I think of the Church at Corinth–suffering from division among their body.
“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought. My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ. Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?”
Agree with one another in what you say–and instead of living Micah 6:8, we’ve argued and demanded that anyone who disagrees with our very hard-lined ideas (not God’s ideas, mind you) is not a Christian and is there for acting as an agent of Hell. Are you kidding me? Your politics and your opinions are not Gospel–the Gospel is Gospel.
At the end of the day, we all have certain things in our wheelhouse of beliefs that are wrong because we’re human. And when Paul asks us to agree on things, he’s asking us to agree on them on the basis of loving others and one another and being like Christ. Agreeing that we need to Love those around us well, agreeing that we shouldn’t be acting hateful towards anyone, agreeing that our lives are founded on One thing and that is Him–and if we have anything else interfering with Him as our foundation, it needs to be very carefully reconsidered. We aren’t a bunch of cliques, we are a single Body–and one part of the Body cannot just go off and function without the rest of the body–that’s not how a body works.
We need to stop being hellbent on destroying people who don’t perfectly agree with us and instead be so focused on creating unity in the Church that the political issues we so aggressively side on actually become issues where we take a Holy stance as One Mind and One Body.
Jesus is the whole goal of all of this, and I think we’ve forgotten that–being right is never the end we are aiming for–Jesus is the End, the Beginning, the Middle, all of it. He’s the Source, so let’s look to Him and Him alone. The Church is created to be a beautiful Body of unified diversity, and isn’t that just such good news?
“For the church is not a human society of people united by their natural affinities but the Body of Christ, in which all members, however different, (and He rejoices in their differences and by no means wishes to iron them out) must share the common life, complementing and helping one another precisely by their differences.” (C.S. Lewis)