I wonder about people who claim to love Jesus but it actually makes them worse people.
If your faith is not making you better: then your faith sucks.
If we’re becoming more judgmental, more categorical in grading others, picking up more stones to throw at “those people” — I don’t think this is anything Jesus died for, and it’s definitely not the church he had in mind.
If we’re only gathering one day per week to passively receive information and then use that self-affirming knowledge to throw moral grenades at strangers over the fence — then I don’t see how this could be loving Jesus. It just sounds like being in love with yourself.
If your faith is making you a jerk, it’s time to throw it out the window and start over.
Following Jesus will draw mockery. The message of the cross is offensive to most people. But this doesn’t mean we need to go out of our way to purposefully offend people. It doesn’t mean that if we’re being “persecuted” that we’re somehow doing it right. When people are offended by your faith, hopefully it’s because you’re so ridiculously kind and compassionate and disciplined in the face of a broken world that it doesn’t make sense to them. Sometimes when we’re “persecuted,” it’s just because we’re being a jerk.
When doctrinal camps divide over the fine print in their theology, I hope we can build bridges through Jesus instead of bashing each other over non-essentials. You speak tongues, I don’t, and that’s okay. We so casually dismiss other churches by throwing a suffocating blanket-statement on their doctrine. The outside world just thinks we’re a bickering group of morons. It’s like soldiers pointing guns at each other instead of getting each others’ back on the front lines.
I know I’m probably undermining my own point. I’m guilty of calling out others on what I’m doing here. But it really does break my heart to be desperate for this unity. It grieves me to see so much in-house fighting when we could really all just grow up and join hands and fight the devil and bring healing to every messed up corner of the universe. The church is called to be the safest, most gracious, recklessly loving place in the world, because Jesus gave his life for us. Imagine a church like that. If only we could quit the hate long enough.
Doctrine is important: but I hope our doctrine can reach across party lines to achieve a countercultural common good. Christians don’t come in one-size-fits-all, because God has a bigger imagination than my idea of a Christian.
I hope our faith is making us better, and not worse. I don’t mean becoming a “nice guy.” I don’t mean financially or intellectually or politically. I mean: more well-rounded, thoughtful, nuanced, with depth, growing in grace, an eye to see all angles, a wider vision, a heart that cares, and hands that move into the places that no one else will go.
Otherwise, it’s not a faith worth having, and not the one Jesus rose again for.