Friday, May 22, 2015

A life worth living: A look at how Christians do and should respond to others

Well it has been a while since I have last written, and for those of you who actually read this please accept my apologies. Life has been increasingly busy and hasn't allotted much time for me to actually sit down and write. With that being said, it doesn't mean I haven't had thoughts and topics come to mind that I want to write about, in fact it is the contrary that is true. I have been overwhelmed with topics and ideas, and if you were to look at my phone you would find multiple notes that are the beginnings of many posts that have not come to fruition. So I have decided to tackle a topic that may be off-putting to some but please read through the entire post and then respond to it. I mean why wouldn't I tackle a controversial topic after not having written in months?

Over the past few months, I have been really convicted about how we (yes I am including myself here) as Christians respond to and with contemporary culture. I have been blown away by some of the recent articles put out by "Christians" lambasting Kylie Jenner and claiming she is a dismal excuse for young ladies to follow while the same article glories Sadie Robertson for her lofty moralism and beautiful standards on being a perfectly modest Christian woman. Or what about how Christians have taken to mocking Bruce Jenner over his transitioning from a man to a woman? How about how Christians have become so opposed to homosexual marriage (read some of the comments)? How about how Christians openly attack other Christians like Josh Duggar when a sin has been committed (and no I am not excusing what he did, but calling us to look at our responses)? Oh and take a look at what people are saying on his siblings social feeds and how they have attacked them for his actions. Or better yet how about how Christians openly decry anything they feel harms their integrity and beliefs? Did Paul not tell us to prepare for persecution? Didn't Jesus say it will come? But his response was never to vilify those who do the persecuting but rather the pray for them and bless them! How have we come to this? Why has this mentality taken hold of us?

What this comes down to is that we as Christians are so judgmental that we have now become idolaters of those we hold to be "holier than thou". Where did we go wrong? Is it only a few bloggers who write viral sensations that become instant hits and a rallying cry for Christians? Is it only the few Christians that have become the vocal voice for our faith? And the answer is a resounding no! We are all guilty of this. We as Christians who decry the holier than thou mentality, the Christians who praise a God of grace and forgiveness, we as Christians who believe no sin to be too great for the love of God, we as Christians who stand condemned just as everyone else in this world but are justified by grace alone, we are the ones who have taken a moralistic stance that idolizes"great" people and bestows on them some sort of odd hero worship, but in the same breath demonize those who stand contrary to them.

Please understand that I use the pluralistic form here because I myself am just as guilty if not the greatest idolater among us. I have openly mocked different celebrities, I have placed great men of God on pedestals and revered their teachings but not God's Word, I have judged others before they could even utter a word, I have placed myself in a better light than I deserve, all because I believe I know better. All because I am a Christian. I use my salvation as a crutch, instead of living out the lifestyle Christ has called me to! I have laid down my cross and instead picked up an effigy of judgmental and critical theology because I have become just like the Pharisees of the Old and New Testaments.

How dare we do that? How dare we hold the world to the standards we hold ourselves to? How dare we judge when we are deserving of the same judgment the world itself is? Have we forgotten the wretches that we are? Have we forgotten how far God has brought us? Have we become blinded to the fact that without the shed blood of Jesus Christ we would be hell-bound ourselves and deserving of the same death that Adam bestowed upon us?

We as Christians have done our faith, our God, a disservice. Please hear me out: I am not lambasting Sadie, I am not saying don't be modest, and I am not saying to be of the world. I am saying we as Christians should be worshiping the Creator not the created. We shouldn't idolize a young woman because she is following Jesus. Rather we should also be following Jesus in a similar manner and giving Him the praise, the glory, the honor, the worship, and the respect He and He alone is due.

I know this is a harsh critique and many would run and say "we are not worshiping Sadie nor are we hurtful in how we critique" but the truth is we are! Every time we decide to take up a "cross" to preserve our religion we end up hurting others, ostracizing the world, and turning people off to the bride of Christ. I am not saying that we should let go of our theology, our doctrine, our beliefs, because what would we be then? I am saying that we as Christians need to do a better job at loving others. We need to do a better job at encouraging and uplifting people. Imagine if instead of throwing hurtful critiques around about celebrities we instead prayed for them and sent them letters expressing how beautiful they are, and how God loves them? Imagine for a moment that instead of saying, "I won't bake you a cake because I don't support gay marriage," we instead said, "I am going to bake this cake for you and pray that you come to know who Jesus is and that you experience His radical love for you." Imagine if you would a world where Christians didn't judge others based on their political parties, their lifestyles, their manner of dress, or their sins, but instead loved and served the world just a Jesus Christ did. What would happen? Maybe, just maybe we would see revival. Maybe, just maybe God's name would no longer be a profane term but instead be honored. Maybe, just maybe the church would once again become a safe place, a place of love and refuge and restoration.

We as Christians need to be very mindful of what we say, how we act, and how we treat others. Any time we glorify or vilify others it reflects on who we serve and claim to follow. Imagine how our critical thoughts, actions, comments, writings, and responses reflect Jesus, and maybe look to change that. I am not saying we need to excuse the sins and hurtful actions of others, but we are called to love, forgive, and let God be the judge. We cannot look at someone and dictate what is in their heart because we are not God and all of us are still works in progress. Christ works in peoples' lives in radical and supernatural ways and people can decide to follow Jesus on their death bed like the thief on the cross, or by an amazing encounter with God like Paul had on the road to Damascus. We as Christ followers need to be living, leading, and declaring Christ in all aspects of our lives. My hope and prayer is that we can be better imitators of Christ by growing in Him and maturing in our walks daily by seeking to be like Him.

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