Division and unity… where does it leave us?

Like many people, I watched the 2014 Grammys a couple of weeks ago… I liked the music, not all of it, but much of it. There were theatrical parts I didn’t care for, some lyrics I didn’t care for and some music that I couldn’t relate to at all, but that’s just my taste. Overall, it was a sensationalized and dramatized event in which I saw what I figured I would… lots of flash, sparkle, twinkle and music. It was the Grammys.

I did notice that a few artists took time to give praise and thanks to God, but that was about as much as there was with regard to Christian music or Christ for that matter. That said, I didn’t watch the show because I was expecting to see God praised, represented or because I was looking for a spiritual message. The Grammys aren’t about Christ or Christianity!

Fast forward a few days… I happened to come across an article posted on someone’s Facebook wall:

http://theblacksphere.net/2014/01/christian-grammy-nominee-natalie-grant-walks-grammys/.

This post is not going to talk about the 34 couples who were married during the Grammy event, it’s going to talk about the polarized debate that has ensued in the above article as a result. I will offer though that I believe Natalie Grant may have missed an opportunity to walk out her Christianity instead of walking out on the people who also attended the Grammys. There are many ways of taking a stand in your beliefs. Walking away from an uncomfortable situation or from one you disagree with only serves to separate you from those who might otherwise have an opportunity to share your witness. Of course, that is a decision we must all make for ourselves and while I may not agree with Natalie’s choice, I definitely respect it!

While reading the article about Natalie Grant though, my heart sank! What struck me was the language that was used by the author to describe many of the people at the Grammys. Why the need to label? The euphemistic references used in the article were rude, hurtful and unnecessary! What was the point? Why the need to Judge? Why the need to identify and denigrate people by referring to them in a derogatory or disparaging way? Why the divide? Why must there be such judgment in our words and in our actions? Why must we make such a point of polarizing ourselves from one another? While this behaviour is not limited to “Christianity”, I wonder why so many “Christians” feel the need to separate themselves from the people that Jesus himself directly called us to embrace? Why do they act in a manner opposite to that which was taught by Jesus himself? In the Great Commission, didn’t Christ call us to engage with ALL of mankind? Did Christ not come to engage with us? Does He not meet us in our walk, in our trial, in struggle or in our weakness? Does Christ not want to connect with us in our journey? I’ve come to learn that He did and He does. That’s how I’ve come to know Him and His character. Why then do so many choose to view it so differently?

I’ve been wrestling with a question for the past few years, but it’s been in the last year especially that I felt an inner unrest and deep sadness because of it! I’m sickened to my core by it! I’m a Christian and sadly, I’m discouraged by much of what I see in the actions of “mainstream Christianity” and many of the Christians who claim to be followers of Christ. I would even go so far as to say that I’m heartbroken by it! Here is the question:

I wonder why many “Christians” need to act in this way?

I wonder why, when Christ came to walk with us, encourage us, love us toward a different path and sacrifice His life for our salvation when we were incapable of living a fully holy and righteous life, why many still feel the need to judge and reject? Christ didn’t and doesn’t reject us and yet, we are all too willing to reject one another! Even worse, we expect those who don’t yet know Christ to abide by his teaching as if they know him… and then we chastise them for it! What kind of example is that? How is that Love? Where is the Grace in that sort of behaviour?

Why do many Christians feel the need to label, compare, or judge? Is it because they themselves feel that they don’t measure up? Here’s a dirty little secret for you, your kids, your spouse, or whomever you choose to share it with…. none of us measure up! We’re all afflicted with a sickness called sin and yet, we’re ALL eternally loved, desired and wanted! All of us! We’re all sinners and Christ came and died for ALL of us! Redemption is available to everyone!

Why is it so incredibly hard for some people to accept that we’re all incapable of leading sinless and completely righteous lives? I don’t know about the rest of you, but I know I can’t. Thanks to Jesus though, I can “live” with it because God has shown me that He loves me beyond my sin! He relentlessly pursues my heart, but doesn’t get in the way of my life in the process! It’s strange to me how we feel the need to judge, correct, berate or otherwise manipulate each other when God just lets us and wants us to live our lives. He calls us to love our neighbour as we love ourselves. He’s more respecting of our free will than we are for one another! Why is that I wonder?

As a Christian, the first and foremost thing that I believe is that I am in constant need of God’s Grace and Forgiveness, but right alongside that is my faith that God will give me more than I can ever ask for! What surprises me is that many “Christians” say those words, but I truly wonder if they actually believe them or know what that kind of love truly looks like. Faith is the belief in hope or promise unseen! What are God’s promises??? “I know the plans I have for you, plans for a hope and a future”. Is it the future I want or the future I should and will have? God is there to guide me, but I have my hand on the rudder of my life and it’s up to me to choose the direction and path that I will walk in, or if I will try to create my own. The truly great part about God is that even if I choose to create my own path… He’s right there with me every step of the way because He loves me and accepts me for who I am and who he created me to be. I may not always listen to him, but he continues to love me in spite of that. That’s it and that’s all! My life is not about how many people I can correct, admonish or teach “the Law” to or even lead to him for that matter!. It’s about showing the Love that He Himself feels for us and sent His Son to affirm!

God’s Word in the Bible is not about fire and brimstone, it’s about love, His Perfect Love, from beginning to end! Why is that so easy say and yet, so hard for some to show or believe? Why are some so focused on the “fire and brimstone” part?

Getting back to the article, while I was saddened by the article itself, I was heartbroken while reading so many of the comments at the bottom of the article. Probably though, some of the most distressing dialogue in the commentary are quoted below (I’ve quoted only two lines from the context of the debate, but trust me, it was a common thread):

“Savedbygrace: It’s obvious you’re not a Christian”

“Lonnie: Good!”

I think that pretty well summarizes the divide and it breaks my heart! Is division what Christ came here to teach? I think many are so focused on and busy trying to live up to the Law we see in the Bible that we miss the point of the law! It’s not there for us to live up to but rather, it’s a guide for us to know what is healthy and what is not. It’s up to us though, to figure that out for ourselves and to ask God for help in the process. Sure… helping each other to understand what that looks like can be a good thing. Before you do that however, I hope you’ve challenged yourself first by asking why YOU see a breech in the Law and what it means to you in your life. I hope you have taken the time to answer where in your life you’ve lived that breech and how you’ve reconciled it before you admonish someone else for breaking it. I also hope you’ll consider that it’s how you offer that testimony and what is in your heart at the time that matters to God!

In the quoted dialogue above, I have to wonder why “Savedbygrace” would have chosen that name when what he/she has chosen to show is the opposite of Grace. They’ve shown hypocrisy and judgment! I wonder how Christ would have engaged with “Lonnie” or with the people in attendance the Grammys? I’d be willing to bet that he would not have walked out of the Grammys. I think he would have talked with anyone who would have wanted to talk with him. I don’t care if they were shaking their “booty” or had just gotten married in the context of the Grammys. The Love of Christ is available to ALL OF MANKIND! Jesus will turn no one away! Think about that… NO ONE! Why then are we so quick to do otherwise?

God doesn’t shove Christianity down our throats, so why must we do that to one another or to those who don’t yet know Christ?

If you have a judging spirit, ask yourself why. Are you so challenged by your own feelings, desires or actions that it makes it easier for you to cope by pointing out those same actions in others? People… being a Christian is not about telling others how to live their lives… it’s about not being trapped by our own transgressions. It’s about being transformed in the knowledge and light of our mistakes and no longer living in shame! It’s about loving while living our lives! Doing so honours God! I personally don’t get it right all of the time, but I do put all of my heart into it. God doesn’t care about my actions, but he does care about where my heart is in every one of them.

If by now, you’ve felt challenged or even angry because of my commentary, please ask yourself why you feel as you do. I ask myself these questions very often and I hope you will too! You don’t need to answer them to satisfy me, but I hope you’ll answer them for yourself. Your life depends on it!

Are you a follower or a fan? Is this fashion or faith?

Do we even think about what these words mean? If you think you’re a Christian because you can follow or live up to the laws proclaimed and written in the Bible… I personally think you’ve missed the point behind what the law is really there for. I think you may have missed the point of Christ’s message and the purpose for his Life and Sacrifice! Yep… those are some pretty bold statements and I hope you’ll consider them. If they anger you, challenge you or otherwise bother you, I hope you’ll not just ask why I wrote them, but you’ll ask yourself why you feel as you do. I truly hope they challenge you to take action in your life. I hope you’ll sit quietly by yourself and consider why you feel what you feel. I hope you’ll truly challenge yourself. I then hope you’ll invite God in to help you find or formulate these questions than to help you find the answers to the questions you came up with.

Telling someone they’re wrong about what they believe or how they feel is not only divisive… it’s arrogant! Christ came to meet people in life and to love them to a better place… to an eternal life! Why can’t we do the same for one another? Why must there be so much anger and hate when we’re called to love and respect?

What I’ve written about is just my commentary on what I’ve witnessed in my journey of learning. These thoughts are about someone whose life has been impacted by Love and Grace. They may not get very far in terms of the number of people they reach, but I truly hope they reach deep within YOU and challenge you to ask yourself some very honest questions. I realize what I’ve written in itself might be considered as judgmental, but I’ll hope you’ll consider it more as a commentary than as a judgment. It’s an expression of hurt and disillusionment.

I’m not normally one to quote scripture, but often, God has already said it better than I ever could! I walk daily in the light of these words:

“Quietly trust yourself to Christ your Lord, and if anybody asks why you believe as you do, be ready to tell him, and do it in a gentle and respectful way.” – 1 Peter 3:15

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One thought on “Division and unity… where does it leave us?”

  1. I was just reading today about this very subject. Apparently it’s on the minds of many right now.

    To be honest, I think many Christians that judge and criticize others do it to feel better about themselves. Kind of an “As long as I’m not one of them, and I’m going to make ‘them’ out to be as different from me as possible, then I’m still okay and not too much of a sinner.” Except we’re ALL sinners, and the greatest commandment is to love. So it’s a losing battle.

    I get bothered by people, especially when we disagree on issues near and dear to me. I’m human. Lately I have been trying to take a step back from people that I just can’t relate to and think “I wonder what God sees in them.” And I can almost always find something in there that would please Him.

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