Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. – Ephesians 4:32
I’ve been watching newscasts, scrolling through my Facebook feed, reading tweets, and listening to folks talk to each other at the mall. It is painfully obvious that we have forgotten how to be kind to one another.
We live in a wonderful country.The American landscape is enriched by a vibrant tapestry of lovely people from different backgrounds and ethnic traditions who express widely diverse opinions and ideas. Sadly, we have abandoned civil discussion. We seem to have lost our ability to conduct conversations that lead to consensus and compromise.Those who support a different party, have a different opinion, come down on a different side of any issue are labeled by the opposition as morons, stupid, communists, socialists, fascists, bimbos, radicals, blowhards, liars, dummies, criminals, racists, idiots, dangerous, traitors, fools.
That's irresponsible language for anyone to use. It's especially jarring and offensive when it spews out of the mouths of those who claim to be followers of Jesus.
I hear Christian people say, "I have the right to my opinion." True enough. We live in a country where we are free to say what we think without recrimination. However, as Christians, we give up our right to our own opinions the moment we give ourselves to God. Christians are to be little Christs who live like Jesus. The act of following in his steps requires that we surrender our wants and our words to his will.
Jesus asks us to live a life marked by love, kindness, gracious speech, forgiveness, and caring about other people. It is possible to hold passionate political positions and still exercise kindness, grace, and love if we are mindful about the way we express our political views.
There is an alarming trend in many churches today. Supporting a cause and a political position has become more important than following Jesus and loving people. The poor are suspected, the marginalized are neglected, and thinkers are rejected. Diversity has been thrown out. Conformity to a particular worldview has become the standard for righteousness.
Jesus said the world will know we belong to him by seeing how much we love each other. Cause driven churches who abandon the way of Jesus in favor of supporting a specific cultural view have done more to damage the reputation of Christ than all the unbelievers in the world put together. When I discuss faith matters with folks who either have never gone to church, or used to attend but have walked away, the single most prevalent reason I hear for this decision is that churches have become too politicized on both the left and the right. Folks look at these kinds of churches and see belief systems, political affiliations, dogmatic theological opinions, and lists of rules and regulations. But, they don't see Jesus there.
Churches compelled by the love of Jesus focus on people rather than political causes. Churches that want to be like Jesus welcome everyone: strangers, immigrants, refugees, people of every race, the rich and the poor, the sick and suffering, the physically and mentally challenged, traditionalists and creative thinkers, crying children, rowdy teenagers, single parents and blended families, the elderly, the lonely, widows and orphans, sinners and saints.Jesus invites every single person on the face of the earth to come to him. His bride, the Church, should do the same.