There are very few things that I believe are worth drawing a “line in the sand” for. I believe in grace upon grace and I believe in margin for people to make up their own minds, space for people to have different opinions and that healthy debate can change the world for the better. However, in light of recently voiced opinions and “manifestos,” here are a few things that I won’t waver on, a few things that I AFFIRM:
I AFFIRM that I am a sinner and I deserve to finish out this life and be gone forever (ie. Death) for the countless ways that I sin every single day.
I AFFIRM that the only way to change that and receive eternal life is through acceptance that Jesus, the son of God, came to die for me and for my sins.
I AFFIRM that Jesus doesn’t just want me to accept him, he wants a relationship with me, and through that PERSONAL relationship, Jesus and the Holy Spirit will convict me of my personal sins and guide me to a life lived more like he desires.
I AFFIRM that the path and journey that God has ME on is NOT THE SAME as everyone else’s. The way that he will guide ME, convict ME, change ME, does not look the same as my husband, my neighbor, my kids, the man in the grocery store or on the other end of a telemarketing call, pretty much every one else in the world. I’m not saying I’m special, my point here is that everyone’s path and journey with God looks different.
I DENY that a group of “leaders” can decide what additional items I or anyone else need to affirm or deny in order to be called a Christian.
I DENY that I or any human has all the answers to the mysteries of God and the bible or knows beyond question how to “live right” on this earth.
There are countless issues and stances out there today that we could spend a lifetime studying, arguing, debating, picking apart and agonizing over, but they aren’t issues of salvation. And arguing, debating and throwing stones about some of these issues only drives people away from Jesus. Away from the joy of knowing him, away the peace that only he can give, away from the love and acceptance that he provides, away from reaching out and receiving the gift of being saved.
I’ll be honest, that’s all I really care about most days: saving people. If someone is drowning, we don’t ask them to change their lives, admit to all the wrongs we think they’ve done, force them to believe everything it’s taken years of study and prayer for us to even somewhat understand, before we save them. No, we throw them a rope or we swim out to them and we FREAKING SAVE THEM.
And later, after they are safe, we can talk about how we can avoid nearly drowning again in the future. But chances are, they don’t really need us to tell them, because just being saved has changed something deep inside.
When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus said: to love God with all your heart, soul and mind. He told us the second commandment was to love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus didn’t say, love God, and then go make sure everyone in the world feels judged. Our job as Christians is to love. It is someone else’s job altogether to convict people of the things God wants to change in their lives.
We, as believers, are told to be different from the world, to be set apart. Be careful that you don’t confuse living what you believe is a spotless life as what is to be different from the world. We aren’t different because we have it all figured out, we are different because we are supposed to live and love differently. When people think of Christians, our goal is not for them to think of some standard I could never (and maybe never should, but that’s a different post) live up to. Our goal should be that they think: wow, I may not believe what they do, but boy can they show love, do good, help people and make a positive difference.
It shouldn’t be, oh there is that group of people that is so fixated on one or two social, peripheral, non-salvation issues that they spent all their time speaking out against, writing manifestos or hypercritical tweets on that they forgot to tell me about that man that they believe saved them from certain death.
To all of my non-christian and Christian friends who have felt or feel judged, worthless, ignored and alienated by the Christian church, the “Christian Machine” or the “Christian Silent Majority,” I am so sorry. I am deeply sorry if my personal silence on issues has hurt you or driven you away from exploring Christ.
Christianity is NOT supposed to be about finger pointing, judging, hierarchical, patronizing, misogynistic, self-righteous, fault-finding rebuking.
It is not supposed to be about legislative and regulative morality, because remember we have a whole Old Testament full of old laws and rules and limitations that was all about proving to us that we could try and try and try and NEVER be good enough on our own.
Christianity IS about love.
And love is patient and kind.
Love doesn’t give up.
Love doesn’t strut around with a big head.
Love doesn’t force itself and its beliefs on others.
Love doesn’t keep score of the sins of others, or keep a list of everything we’ve ever done wrong.
Love puts up with anything.
Love trusts God.
Love always looks for the best, never looks back
And Love never gives up.
I AFFIRM that without love, we are all bankrupt.
May there be more love out there today than yesterday. . .