My thoughts are scattered this morning; I think a lot of people can relate to this. I share this not for sympathy, but to ask you to bear with me as I try to share what I believe I need to share. It might not be succinct, it might not flow just the way I’d like it to, but I think right now the message matters a little more than the delivery.
First, I need to start by saying that I don’t know who you are. I don’t know where you come from. I don’t know your background or the experiences that have shaped you into who you are today. I don’t know your beliefs. I don’t know what you care about, what you’re passionate about or what drives you.
But, you’re loved. You matter. You’re more than a definition. More than a descriptive phrase or word. More than a statistic. You are a human that was created for a purpose, and that means so much.
Right now, it feels like that basic fact has been forgotten by so many. We’ve begun to identify by those phrases. To measure our value and the value of others by categories, by lines, by division. We’ve lost sight of the fact that these lines and dividing factors have been created by others, by humans, by thoughts, by errors, by bad judgments and by weakness. That they are words that shouldn’t matter.
Today, however, they do.
They’ve driven our country to take sides. Scary sides. Sides that have lead to real action and devastating consequences. To hatred of the “other,” and real hurt and fear. We’ve seen it in action over the past week.
I’ve heard it all. I’ve heard some share that they needed to turn off the television because of the bombardment of stories. I’ve heard others share that they’re heading out to protest, to take action. And, I’ve heard far too many say nothing.
As Christians – it’s hard. I get it. It’s hard to take a side and to be counted. It’s hard to put love into action when we aren’t sure what that action should be. I think I speak for a lot of us when I say that it’s easy to feel compelled to act, then to fail out of fear or a general lack of understanding of what that action should be.
I don’t think it needs to be that hard.
Here’s the thing. We are called to love. To love unequivocally. To love in a way that is clear, obvious and felt by those who need it most.
I think we know that. But, I think what comes next is where the challenge begins.
I’ve seen a lot of churches speaking out, saying it’s time to take a stand…and I agree. I not only agree but I applaud them for breaking the silence that needs to be broken. Bigotry, hatred, racism; these are real words with real-life consequences that change and hurt real lives. They have no place in the church. Change starts with acknowledging the need for it.
It’s time to start erasing those words with love. To put it into action. So many times, we say we love and we mean it.
Then the “but” comes in. We become unsure of how to act while still reflecting Christ. We start to mix up the word “love” and the words “fully support and agree with.” We believe that showing love, the love that we’re called to show means we need to fully jump on board and support something we don’t believe in, so we fall short. I’m just as guilty of this as others.
I think love is meant to be more simple than that. It’s meant to be a reaching across the aisle when no one else will. It means standing when no one else will. Calling someone who’s feeling rightfully angry or scared and saying “I’m here.” Praying for those who are oppressed. Listening. Lamenting. Crying out for those who need it most and standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves.
You can love someone you don’t understand. You can love someone you disagree with (hello; we still love our spouses when they wrong us, don’t we?). Love doesn’t need to mean agreeing 100% of the time or jumping on board something we cannot accept. Sin is still real and must be dealt with, but so is God. Love is so much deeper than that.
We not only “can” love; we are called to do so.
John 13:34 says: A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
There’s no “but…” there’s no “except…” there’s nothing but a very specific command.
When love is put into action, it changes hearts. It breaks stereotypes. It becomes a foundation for a relationship that can become so much more, a relationship that can lead to change and sharing, but only when it’s genuine.
Most importantly, it erases lines. When we drop our preconceived notions and reach out in love, we start to break down the barriers that are so prevalent in our country today on both sides. We start to eliminate the frustration this world feels towards Christians who claim to love as Christ did – without prejudice or preconceived notions – but fail to act differently from the rest of the world. We start to make a difference, one life at a time.
The world needs this type of love, today, right now, right this second.
What would happen if you reached out? If you took the status you shared or the article you “liked” and changed the way you acted in an intentional, real way?
If we could all commit to living out the command that we are called to live, to love without restraint, I think the change would send shock waves across this country that would be tangibly felt and noticed on a wide scale.
Right now, a lot of people and groups of people need that kind of love. They need a refuge, a place without barriers, without lines, without division. The church can be that place without compromising principles, without double standards and without changing values. But, only when love is at the foundation.
It starts with us. It starts with acknowledging that there is a problem and committing to act accordingly.
Let’s shine a light during this dark, dark time. Let’s start to erase the lines that have become so prevalent in our world. Let’s love in tangible ways that will lead to softened hearts, changed minds and unity in a time of crisis.