Sunday, July 29, 2012

"Be More Christian"

Every once in a while, I read an article and am amazed how the author MUST have been walking around in my brain.  With the recent controversy surrounding Chik-Fil-A, I've had lots of opinions, but just haven't been able to get it organized right.  Fortunately, I don't have to - because THIS article by Jen Hatmaker says it all:

(then come back here!)

This whole issue has made me realize that I have a very diverse group of friends - because across my Facebook wall, there are dueling posts arguing very different opinions.  Personally, I believe that a business owner, like everyone else in the USA, enjoys the same freedom of speech as any other citizen.  Likewise, any citizen who disagrees or find offense has the same right to show their displeasure in discourse or by spending their money elsewhere.  That's the way America works.  And those freedoms of speech and religion are two of the critical freedoms that our founding fathers worked for and our brave soldiers continue to fight for.  So I'm not anxious to give them up!

What bothers me the most, is how some of my fellow Christians behave when they try to convince people that it's "the Bible-way" or the "Hell-way."   This is not helpful!  There is a difference between a "salvation issue" and a "sin issue."  In one respect, salvation is easy:  Believe with your heart, mind, and soul that Jesus is THE Christ, the Son of the Living God.  That's it-- Ticket to Heaven in hand.  Unfortunately, some believers take that "ticket" and use it as a free pass to bully others for their alternate or conflicting beliefs.  Add to that the part where EVERYBODY (regardless of their belief in Jesus) sins almost daily in some manner or another, and we've got a problem.  

I really like this paragraph from Jen's blog:
When we resort to the same tactics being leveled at Truett Cathy, we sink to the least common denominator and – this is important – we make everything worse. How are these culture wars working out for us? Well, the church is losing around 50K folks a week, and the next generation downright refuses to come. The gay community is ostracized entirely (oh, they’ve gotten the message alright), and Christianity has turned into white noise.

Digging our heels in even harder is the problem, not the answer.  
Love is, if you believe anything Jesus ever said or did.

I get it - it's hard to walk the line of living a Christian life, surrounding yourself with Christian friends-yet-still reaching out to others to lead them to Christ. Believe me, I have my own opinions about religion, politics, Republicans-vs.-Democrats, gay rights, the death penalty, abortion, immigration, Harry Potter, the devil, Creation-vs.Evolution, and more.   On some issues, I'll eagerly leap upon the soap box and declare my hand (I have my train ticket to Hogwarts, thank-you-very-much!).  With other issues, I'm still working it out - trying to follow what I believe the Bible is saying about both a sin AND how Jesus behaved toward sinners.  "Hating the sin but still loving the sinner" is sometimes not exactly as easy or simple as it should be!  And while I may have a lot of opinions, I don't have all the answers.  So I'm adopting this policy (as much as I can):
(Yes, I made this myself.)

I keep thinking of the Chik-Fil-A slogan of "EAT MORE CHICKEN," and what I really want to encourage my friends is to

As in "BE MORE CHRISTLIKE!"  Be patient.  Lead by example... Be honest... Be authentic... Be truthful, but have self-control... Be generous... Be real.  You may have a ticket to Heaven, but God is charging you NOT to come along solo.  God wants ALL of his children in Heaven, and you won't change any minds by acting like a religious lunatic on Facebook or Twitter.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

-Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)

Huh... looks like I found my own little soapbox after all.
Take care of each other,
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