This week I came across an article ranting about bad things Christians do or say and hurling damning generalizations at the lot of us. If I’m being transparent here (which, painfully, I feel called to be), I have to admit that I had a visceral, negative reaction to this when I scanned through it. I mean, I’m so tired of people focusing on the negatives of Christians and Christianity while ignoring the innumerable things done, great and small, in the name of Jesus for the benefit of the world in general and our cities and neighborhoods specifically. Aren’t you?
But…before I get you too fired up, let me fill you in briefly on where this journey has led me. Spoiler alert: it didn’t end with me posting an angry response, feeling vindicated by my witty yet scathing words.
So here’s the thing. After I went back through the list of 8 awful things Christians do or say, as I was formulating what I would say back, I heard this annoying voice in my head ask a couple questions: Well, is it true that Christians have done or said those things? Have you ever done or said things like this?
I really hate to call the voice of God annoying, but I think that’s what it was–God’s voice. I think God can take me referring to his voice as annoying since it often takes me being annoyed before I will learn and grow, and that’s what he wants from me.
Being honest (which, let’s face it, you might as well be when you’re talking to God!), I can’t really answer “no” to either of his questions. So now what?
I’d like to say I exercised self-control and didn’t write a witty yet scathing response. Well, I didn’t write any such response, but it would be disingenuous for me to refer to my restraint as “self-control”.
Hence the term: “Christ-control”, since he is really the one who saved me from myself.
This doesn’t mean that I have to be OK with the things said in the article I saw. It only means that I have to respond to hate and vitriol the way Jesus did–with love and prayers for the offender. I only have to live and interact with people in such a way that reflects his love for them, thereby glorifying his name.
Doesn’t God know how hard it is to love people who don’t love me? But what about…?
Hmm. Well, yes, I guess he does. There are no “But what about”s in his Kingdom.
He never said it would be easy–he only promised he would there with us through it all. And he showed us the way.
Darn you, Jesus! But also, thank you.
The hardest thing is not to fire back when criticized. That constraint is what makes us different. I certainly don’t always succeed in doing the right thing but I know we should.