Brennan Manning said, "The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips then walk out the door and deny him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable." I do believe this rings true.
In the past few weeks I have seen this in action. I have watched people that claim to be followers of Jesus Christ fight, argue and hate. This has totally broken my heart. We have not shown the love of Jesus. Instead, we have started fighting our own wars against whatever cause makes us angry.
What are these causes that are so important? Are we fighting to end hunger or homelessness? Are we fighting against sex trafficking? Are we fighting social injustice? These are important issues that need to be addressed. Are we fighting for these or are we fighting because someone doesn’t agree with our beliefs? Or because someone doesn’t agree with our political goals? Is it really all about us and our hurt feelings?
John 8:12 tells us, “Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Over the past two or three months this verse has been a sucker-punch from the Holy Spirit. What I mean is this: am I being the light I am supposed to be? Am I trying to push my will or am I trying to follow God’s will?
Matthew 6:9-10 says, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Are we asking for God’s will in all we do? Or do we get in the way of God. Do we try to make our agenda God's agenda? It should be the other way around. God's agenda should be our agenda. But we drop the ball on this. We try to justify our agenda: "So and so said this and it is an insult to all Christians everywhere." And then we do what we think should be done about it.
Now what I am about to say will hurt some people’s feelings. We need to stop getting in the way of God’s love because of our hurt feelings. We need to show God’s love to everyone. We need to love others no matter what color their skin is, no matter their political party, no matter their economic status, no matter their sexual orientation. We need to be a light to everyone, not just people like us.
Christianity does not look like a group of people that argue and hate others due to their different beliefs. Christianity is love. 1 John 3:16-18 tells us, “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but indeed and in truth.”
Let us show our love and not just talk about it. We need to show love to everyone we interact with. We cannot allow our ideology to hurt others. We need to love others no matter what. I was told a long time ago I need to love the sinner not the sin. It’s not my place to judge anyone. I need to love them like Christ loved me. I know I have said this before in an article but I believe it bears repeating. The world is going to do what the world is going to do.
Martin Luther King Jr. said that, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” As a Christian we must be light during this dark time, not because we want to. Because we have to.
Butts is youth minister at Journey Church in Covington.