I've been reading The Hole In Our Gospel by Richard Stearns the last week or so.
And of course, like any good book, it's got me thinking a lot. It's not that I hadn't heard most of what he's talking about, it's just a reminder of lots of stuff I process on a daily basis.
Before Christmas a friend posted something on Facebook asking why so many Christians are so mean, judgmental, not Christlike at all. (I'm paraphrasing really poorly, as she wasn't mean or spiteful in her question, she was sincerely seeking). I responded with "I have so much to say I need to just write a blog post".
I wanted to write then that, unfortunately, just because people are Christians doesn't mean they are any less human than other people. And humanity, as we all know, encompasses all kinds of beauty and ugly within it. The reality is Christians need grace just like everybody else, in fact more often than not, we probably need it more than everybody else.
I wanted to write that but remembered that I am often equally frustrated with Christians. Especially in a space like Facebook or the blogosphere. When I see someone quoting the Bible and then exploiting children, or leaning on scripture to ok their unethical adoption I become one hot little unit.
We aren't perfect are we? Myself included, or rather myself especially.
Here's the deal, for those of you who don't believe the way I do, I get it. It's a stretch. That's why it's called faith. I also get it if the only experience you've had with Christians has left you believing we are all fear mongers that use God as our shield to act any way we want.
I get it.
But I guarantee you there are also Christians in parts of the world that no one else will go. There are also Christians whose names you will never know doing things that are unimaginable. They aren't even wielding their Bibles telling everyone they need to believe. They are quietly and with great fortitude bringing heaven to earth.
That is Jesus. It's not in the adoptive parent (because, really, we all want the kids we are getting. There is too much selfishness in adoption to have it be considered Jesuslike, in my humble opinion), it's not in the guy passing out Bibles to new college freshman.
It's in the people quietly and steadfastly feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, visiting those in prison. It's in the people not just throwing money at problems but becoming part of the solution.
And it is frustrating when I see Christians who doesn't seem Christlike at all, it is. But I know where I was not that many years ago still identifying myself as Christian. Not Christlike at all. And yet, and yet.
Grace doesn't come when I lodge hatefilled Bible balls at these unsuspecting Christians. That isn't Grace.
So next time you see something that makes your blood boil, stand up for what you believe, sure. But not with hatefilled messages, with grace filled messages.
Grace saves, hate destroys.
We need each other (Christian or not) I really do believe that. I don't like everyone. My personality clashes with other people's that just the way it is. But that doesn't mean I'm better or they're better. We are different and there's a space for us all to live peacefully together.
I think the world is changed by grace and love. I think minds and hearts are changed by those. I don't believe they can be changed by arguing and posturing, I really don't believe that.
Part of my New Years resolution, remember, is to tear off the masks. Here's mine. Grace has saved me, people. Not just grace from Jesus but grace from the people in my life. They have quite literally loved me to Jesus. There has been no condemnation and that has made all the difference.
My pastor talked about heaven and earth last week. It was great (listen to it here, click on the last one "Focus 4" by Jason Holtgrewe) and I will unpack more of it as the weeks go on.
But what I loved was how he mentioned throughout the Bible God talks about bringing Heaven to earth. We're not meant to just bide our time waiting to go to heaven. The reason God is bringing Heaven to earth is because earth is worth something now. The Bible talks about when God comes how He will throw out all injustice and ugliness.
So if it's going to be thrown out then, it needs to be thrown out now.
And I am on 40 different tangents but the purpose of this is to say this. Let's do that*. Let's bring heaven to earth now. By treating each other with respect, even when we aren't treated that way. To love and not fear, to embrace and not push away. What an awesome world that could be.
Grace, it's not just a tattoo.**
*When I say "Let's" I mean "let us", including myself. I am a recovering judger. It's hard to shrug off the cloak of judgement. I am a work in progress. This is not a soapbox, it's a rally cry. It's a reminder for me, perhaps most of all.
**I have a tattoo that says Grace in Amharic