Hi everyone. I don’t normally do this, but over the past few months I’ve increasingly struggled with some of the things I’ve seen of fellow Christians, myself included, doing and saying, as well as, struggles within my faith. I’d like to start out by saying that this is directed towards myself, as much as anyone else, and I would please ask if anyone feels targeted by this to let me know. I promise it wasn’t my intent, and I ask that you show me mercy and grace.
First off, I’d like to ask a seemingly simple question for my brothers and sisters in Christ, but one that I know will cause many of us to think introspectively about ourselves and our relationship with Christ: “Why do we allow ourselves to put political views/’patriotism’ over the lives of others and sharing the love of Jesus with them?” This has caused many questions within my faith that I struggled to answer, starting with our treatment of foreigners, members of the LGBT+ community, and our ‘enemies,’ too. Not to say that we as Christians should be weak willed or lacking in conviction, but that we should never let our pride get in the way of talking to others and sharing the gospel. That is our calling. Scripture gives many examples of how to treat non-believers, and even those we consider the lowest of the low:
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person (Colossians 4:5-6 ESV).
44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:44-48 NIV).
We are called to be much more loving than many of us are. I am not saying we should not judge, for that is un-scriptural, in fact we are called to judge, but in righteousness. This judging however, should be used to bring light to the world, to bring truth. Not to push outsiders from Christ, but to show them the way to Him. On another note, shouldn’t we as the church be concerned about the sin rampant in the church, too? That’s what we are called to do scripturally. “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? (1 Corinthians 5:12 ESV).” I think, and this is just my opinion, that the church has spends too much time focused on getting people to church, rather than getting them to commit to Jesus. We seem to think getting people to church is more important than getting people to follow Christ. I fully believe that helping followers develop deep, meaningful relationships with Christ will lead to the evangelism.
Furthermore, we as followers of Christ, seem to treat our nationality as a bigger part of our identity than we do our dedication to Jesus. This is scary to think about. I’ve had the best opportunity to spend time this past weekend at Camp Cowen at Fall Retreat with BCM. During this weekend, the Traveling Team spoke about global missions, and touched on the prejudices/discrimination that many Middle Eastern/Muslim people/students face. This same weekend, I was in a small group with a Muslim student, whom was very respectful and caring, and wanted to learn more about Christ. Like him, many of these people are willing and open to develop relationships with American Christians, but many have closed the doors that the Lord has opened for them. This student questioned (benevolently) my beliefs and the parts of my faith that I normally take for granted, and I am a better Christian because of it. As the traveling team said: “Either they’re normal people with the same wants and needs as us, or they are enemies. But, what does it matter? We are called to love our enemies, and the greatest love is that of Christ. So what if they are, like many misguided and prejudiced Americans think, ‘terrorists’!? Philippians 1:21 said it best: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” So, while we live, we should live for Christ, and even if we are to die, then we are to gain the most perfect gift in all eternity! If anyone feels I am over stepping my bounds then please consider this: When was the last time you spoke to a good friend, whom you know is not a follower of Christ, about Jesus? I’ve found that I am guilty of ignoring the salvation of even my closest friends, so how could I ever share it with some of my worst ‘enemies’? I don’t have an answer to these questions, but I know that even if I am flawed and unable to achieve anything for God through my own power, that God will use me as a tool for his Kingdom, and that should give us all confidence to speak with conviction:
For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God… (2 Timothy 1:7-8 ESV).
These are my thoughts so far. Please, let me know if what I’ve said is incorrect. I would rather be called out, than to live not knowing the Truth. Thank you for your time and patience.