God is everywhere. He is at the back door of the abortion clinic—(thanks to Angie Smith at IF:Gathering for that imagery). He is in the prison. He is in the school. He is in your home. He is at the bar. He is on the corner with the drug dealer. If your God doesn’t love sinners…if he doesn’t love people who don’t look like you…then you’ve created God in your image. Like Anne Lamott once said, “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” God created us in His image, we don’t get to decide who we think He is. We don’t get to change and twist and contort things until they suit our own impression of how things should be. A violent, sad abortion video, a Facebook rant about immigrants at the border, a tirade about welfare…do those actually save people from themselves? Does it solve abortion or the border crisis? Does it feed the hungry on welfare? A woman who has already had an abortion only sees your videos and remembers that Christians think she’s a “baby killer.” She doesn’t see that video and want to know the God that you know. A family on welfare doesn’t see that post and want to make a better life for themselves, they feel hopeless and ashamed. Your anger towards people at the border doesn’t solve any crisis, perceived or real, that is occurring, and it certainly doesn’t spread the love of God to anyone…especially the people trying to make a better life for themselves here.
We need to show people who God is through the way we treat them, and in today’s world that means being cognizant of what we post, what we say, what we share, and what we do. It doesn’t just mean saying that you have faith or you love people, it means actually loving them, actually having faith, and becoming a story of how God works in the hearts of sinners, because we are all sinners.
These tactics scare people away from the God that your next post is about. Your next post is, “love this if you love Jesus” or “Thoughts and prayers for all of those….” For a non-believer that Jesus you post about is ashamed of them just like you are. The Jesus you mention must hate them for having an abortion or an addiction or for being brown or black skinned because his followers sure seem to pour out anger much more than they pour out love. How do those tactics bring anyone to Jesus? And if you are a Christian, don’t you want to bring others to Jesus?
We can educate people, we can stand up for injustice, we can even be political and have morals and values we defend fervently…but we can also do that with love. That might mean that we have to put God’s love before politics. It might mean that we have to check the reasons behind the way we feel and figure out if they are in line with what God wants or what we want.
We can welcome people who have sinned into a relationship with the God that we know in much different ways. We can help people forge new paths in life with love instead of anger, shame, and hatred. Love and forgiveness do not mean giving up what you believe in. We can change the world, call on our lawmakers to make just laws, have morals, fight for what is right, AND be the hands and feet of Jesus. This is a both/and, not an either/or. You can love people and want what’s best for them and want them to know God without accepting what they’ve done as right. God is the judge. Let’s leave that to Him. Let’s voice our opinions about injustice in a way that makes people less likely to sin because they see God in us. Did you sing that song when you were a kid, “they’ll know we are Christians by our love?” What better way to bring someone to Jesus than through example. If you just love people, if you meet every one of their misgivings and mistakes with love and friendship and kindness, I believe they will want to know God because they will see Him in you. They will see that God is real and this big, unbelievable love that you talk about is not magic, it is truth.
The Jesus that we read about in the Bible and the God that I know to be real—a belief that I have had to wrestle with at times throughout my life, honestly—are not exclusive and angry and shaming. God loves people with a reckless, overwhelming, unfathomable love and He forgives them with a grace just the same. And he doesn’t discriminate based on what you look like or what your job is or what mistakes you have made.
If he did, I’d have long ago fallen out of His graces.
God asks us to repent and confess and declare a new truth. I am sorry. I have done this. And I am free. That’s it. And none of us get to decide that that isn’t true because we want to or because it suits or morals or agendas better. It isn’t an invitation to sin forever. But God calls us into this relationship of grace with him because he knows that in him we won’t need to sin or conform to this world anymore.
The price was paid on the cross. Our salvation has been purchased. We are forgiven. You are loved. I am loved. And no matter what anyone says about you that will never be untrue.