(Preaching to myself again – a lesson for which I woefully admit guilt and a desire to change my ways.)
I don’t think I’m alone in feeling so judged by almost everyone these days.
It seems that every time I turn around, I witness divisiveness, anger, judgment, and frustrations being taken out on one another. Especially here on social media.
Everyone has a point to prove. Everyone is ready to beat the other down to be the “conqueror”, the “winner”.
It’s a sad time in our society. Our behavior has devolved into something that is barely recognizable when compared to the civility that I remember being practiced as I was growing up, when folks mostly respected the different beliefs and politics of another.
That kind of willingness to set aside differences in order to “get along” has seemed to vanish.
What burdens me most, however, is how Christ-followers are behaving. I’m speaking of myself, too, when I say that so many of us are speaking and acting before we pray and think, and as a result, we look no different than the rest of the world.
And when we look no different from he world, we are no longer serving as a light, a beacon pointing the way for others to Christ.
How are we supposed to look?
Different. Different from the rest of the world. Unafraid of ridicule, willing to take that risk to be set apart. Even weird sometimes!
When a Non-believer encounters someone, especially a Believer, with whom they disagree, how do you imagine they feel and react? I imagine that they feel disgusted. Morally superior. Ready to scourge and devour the person who is expressing a different belief. Ready to belittle their choices, to try to prove that their choices and beliefs are “irrational, ignorant, inferior….”, and the list goes on.
How do I know this? How can I put myself in the shoes of an Unbeliever? Because, even though I am a Believer, a Christ-Follower, I am guilty of having reacted this same way to those who are different from me. I have acted “in the flesh”, refusing to heed the call of the Holy Spirit in my life. Abandoning the Lord and trusting my own faulty judgment, I have tumbled head on into fleshly, worldly battles in which I have no business participating. And I have regretted it.
Even though I may win a few wars of words or flesh, they are ultimately not for gain – not in the realm of the Kingdom of God. No, they are hollow victories of self-righteousness, vanity, and conceit.
Benefiting no one.
How should a Christ-Follower react?
By the power of the Holy Spirit we must set ourselves apart from our fleshly tendencies to react in judgment. This alone will appear different from the world.
“A servant of Jesus Christ is one who is willing to go to martyrdom for the reality of the gospel of God.” (Oswald Chambers) This means that we must be willing to give up our desire to win at all costs trying to prove our points superior.
We must bring down our pride, and humiliate our arrogance. We must allow the Holy Spirit to fight our battles for us.
The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent. – Exodus 14:14
If we approach others out of our sense of “morality” when we come into contact with immorality, others will simply recoil, and shut their hearts up to the message of the Gospel that we should be bringing to them.
Isn’t this the very same tactic that Unbelievers use on those with whom they disagree? They ridicule and demoralize and use tactics designed to annihilate and destroy the opposition. The end result in that is simply that – THE END. The object of ridicule retreats, shuts down, and turns off that discussion in despair.
It’s THE END of that argument, THE END of that relationship, THE END of that opportunity. The bottom has been reached and there is no love or acceptance there – only a pit of despair and heartache. Loneliness. Hopelessness.
So what has been achieved? Is it truly a victory? Has anyone been “won over”? No.
Beating someone down in scorn is not the equivalent of winning someone over to Love.
Instead of “preaching a moral lesson” and arguing in a manner designed to defeat another – and the main example I’m thinking of now is the prevalent argument of “which presidential candidate represents the moral or Christian or best way” – we should instead be sharing the Gospel. We should be revealing the Son and His Ways to others. We should be modeling Christ before everyone.
The difference in the former (beating someone down with words and actions) and the latter way (sharing the Gospel of Christ in Love) is that there is no agonizing end for the defeated as there is in a secular argument.
It is impossible to get to the bottom of God’s Love.
God’s Love is eternal, unending, and big enough to cover every wrong. Under the blanket of His love there is enough room for everyone. No one should ever leave the presence of a Christ-Follower feeling beat down, defeated, mocked, or scorned.
Instead, we should leave others feeling hopeful, uplifted, and at the very least, full of questions about the possibilities of what it would be like to live in the Light of His Love.
We should be different. We should treat others differently than they treat us.
We should leave others feeling differently than we’ve so often been left to feel.
Christ-Followers, if we aren’t different from the world around us, who will be left to reveal the Light?
Let’s set our hearts and minds on doing better, being better. Let’s light the way, especially if it is surrounded in darkness.
The truth is that no matter what the outcome of this election is, it is ordained by God. NOTHING happens without His allowing it to be so.
So, even if we are entering a time that is going to prove to be difficult and more oppressive for us than what we’ve been used to, our calling is to live as MORE than conquerors.
Notice the “MORE than”?
We are not simply conquerors, who beat others down and leave them to suffer and die. No, we are MORE than that. We don’t leave them behind – we lift them UP, and we COME ALONGSIDE them, and we CARRY them to victory!
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)
We don’t just desire to defeat others – We are MORE THAN CONQUERORS, because we desire to WIN THEM OVER TO THE VICTORIOUS SIDE. We desire, as God does, for ALL to live in the glorious victory of Christ.