They Will Know
What are we doing?!?! And by "we," I mean the collective "we" as Christians. Me included. Now, I’m no biblical scholar. I'm no prophet. I'm just a girl with an opinion. A strong one. So here it is.
We're commanded in scripture to "be holy as I am holy" (1 Peter1:16). The word holy means to be "set apart." However, in our Christian culture we've taken it further to mean "segregated." In our quest to be holy, we've somehow separated ourselves from the very people we claim we love and want to reach.
We shrink back from those who may hold a different belief system than ours, or practice a different lifestyle. We angrily speak out against hot-button issues, widening the gap and forgetting there are human souls that bear the image of God behind each one.
Sadly, we are known for what we're against. We often suggest with our own words and actions that the life-giving gospel of Jesus isn't really about a loving God who laid down his life to save us all from our own depravity; instead, it's more about issues to be debated, agendas to be promoted, and arguments to be won.
I want to apologize for any times I've done this. If I have hurt you, I am truly sorry.
Jesus was perfectly holy, yet he lived among those the world considered outcast: the promiscuous, foreigners, tax-collectors, handicapped, demon-possessed, etc. But he also hung out with the average guy who had an average job to support his average family in an average town. He saw them all with the same eyes of compassion, with the same need for a savior.
He was a friend of sinners. Not just their acquaintance. Not just their teacher. Not just their judge. Their friend. He didn't see them as a problem to be fixed; he saw them as people to be loved.
But be careful. Oh, I don't mean be careful to not fall into the "ways" of unbelievers. We need to be careful that we don't have the attitude that our purpose for the relationship is to change them into who and what we think they should be. Let's be careful to not consider ourselves the "holy ones" who are there to save and reform those poor "unholy" souls.
As if we could.
If all we see is people's behavior and actions, we’ll never see the heart that is longing for the very same thing we so desperately need.
When we engage with someone we don't agree with, or feel animosity toward a certain group of people, do we only see their issues, or do we see them as image-bearers? Do we see them as as an evil-doer or as an equal? They are, you know.
Do we choose to see their depravity or their dignity? How we see people will determine how we treat them.
Don't get me wrong; Jesus clearly challenged people about their sin. Likewise, we are instructed to speak the truth in love. I personally don't think people are so often offended by the truth, as much as they're offended by how we tell them the truth. And, just as importantly... how we treat them.
They will know we are Christians by our love. Not our picket signs. Not our Facebook posts. Not our politics.