Are we so busy fighting the big battles and the things that threaten the spreading of the Gospel, that we’re forgetting to actually spread the Gospel?
Lately I’ve see so many articles and posts on social media that are waging war on all kinds of hot topics: Divorce. Abortion. Substance Abuse. Homosexuality. Islam.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this, and it doesn’t sit right with me. I’ve been struggling with the idea of us as Christ followers spouting messages about “abortion is a sin!”, and “make your marriage work!”, and “stand up against the muslims taking over our country!”, and most recently, “don’t let those school board heathens take verses from our Bibles!”.
I understand that we need to stand, we need to have convictions and believe in them. And we need to pray. But in the wake of our social media convictions there lies a lot of carnage; carnage made up of broken human hearts.
Behind that divorce is an exhausted woman who needs some support.
Behind that abortion is a woman living in shame who doesn’t know how she can raise a baby on her own and how she can manage the looks of judgement.
Behind the social drinking is a person who is dealing with a childhood of neglect and abuse.
Behind the homosexuality is a person who feels judged and condemned.
Behind the hijab is a woman who fiercely believes in her Koran and doesn’t know any other reality.
Behind a school board decision is a person who has hurt from the church and is trying to do what she believes is the right thing.
And all of these people, what do they receive from Jesus followers? They usually receive more shame, guilt, condemnation, and judgement. These people won’t benefit from a Facebook post that further pushes them away from what they need most.
When I watch how Jesus walked out his short years here on earth, he never addressed the sin or the issue without addressing the heart. He never did one without the other, except maybe when it came to dealing with those who were religious, the Pharisees. (I think He knew their hard, proud hearts weren’t open, but the heart of a hurting person would be.) When a woman was caught in adultery (a sin punishable by death), He restored her dignity in front of her accusers, treated her with love and valued her as a person, and THEN told her to go and sin no more. It’s a similar story with the woman at the well. When He healed people, He never asked them what sins they committed first (though He DID rebuke his disciples for inquiring who’s sin made a boy blind – John 9:2-3). He took the depravity of the human condition and put it up against the Love of His Father. And that love won EVERY. TIME.
I really think we have it backwards. We address the sin in peoples’ lives, and then tell them how to live opposite of that. We tell them not to get divorced, that abortion is murder, that alcohol abuse is wrong and hurts people. But we’re not really doing what Jesus did – appeal to the broken heart first. When Jesus gave love and grace to the sinners he encountered, it was a given that they would turn around and do something different. Because meeting Love in person form has a way of changing people. Imposing rules and fighting big issues don’t.
Let’s not forget that behind the “big battles” are people. People who need love, not hate. People who need what Jesus has to offer, not more of what the enemy offers (judgement, shame, guilt, isolation, condemnation). What are we offering them when we share politically/racially-charged articles on Facebook?
What are we offering them when we’re fighting so hard for our rights to spread the Gospel, that we’ve forgotten to actually do just that? None of these issues affect my ability to spread the love of Jesus where He calls me to: which is everywhere, at all times – I need to grow to that! (Remember that the Gospel is being spread even in places where that very act is punishable by death, so surely we can get around any restrictions imposed on us.) The big issues don’t stop me from telling one person about the love of Jesus and how He can change our lives.
The big issues matter, but Jesus is teaching me that they don’t matter more than a person.
Jesus fought the big battles by going after one heart. Then another. And then another. Let’s go after peoples’ hearts and the big issues will diminish.