In just the past few weeks I’ve witnessed two separate instances where someone I’m close to has been harassed for the way they have voiced or represented their belief in Jesus. You would probably assume that the harassment came from narrow-minded, opinionated agnostics. Or maybe from a different faith… but it didn’t.
The accusations actually came from fellow “Christians”. The hatred, the criticism, and the intolerance all came from a group of people claiming to love and worship the same Jesus. It hurts my heart and confounds my mind that this is possible. It is no wonder to me that some people have a disdain for Christianity when it is possible that they may have witnessed or experienced the intolerance I’ve seen first-hand recently.
I think that we have enough to fight against in this world without having to worry about taking shots from those who claim the same faith. Here are 3 reasons why we should be less critical of those trying to share God’s love.
1. We should be about inclusion, not exclusion
One of the darkest sides of intolerance is that most of the time it is fueled by the enjoyment of excluding others. In a twisted way, including ourselves and simultaneously excluding someone else gratifies our ego. We can wrongly assume that by making someone else wrong, we make ourselves right.
This goes directly against the overall theme of scripture and God’s far-reaching love for humanity. Jesus’ motive for dying for us wasn’t so that He could leave people out, but so that anyone could come. The Bible doesn’t paint a picture of God actively looking for people to reject, but of God actively looking for people to accept.
I’m not saying that we should close our eyes and turn our heads when faced with unsound doctrine, but I am saying that we should actively focus on inviting others to experience God’s love rather than looking for those who are ‘doing it wrong’.
2. We are ALL imperfect in our attempt to share God’s perfect love
The only perfect candidate for sharing God’s love is someone who realizes and admits his inability to do anything perfectly. The Bible is very clear that we all are sinful. So why should we expect anyone to represent Him perfectly? Our primary focus in sharing God’s love is to do just that, share His love.
We are all meant to be a reflection of Jesus. You can waste your time finding smudges, scratches, and imperfections in the reflection or you can just celebrate that there is a mirror.
3. Your Ministry is Worth Nothing Without Love
We could all spend the rest of our days arguing the right way to share God’s love and grow His church.
-We could debate that the preacher is too gentle or too harsh
-The music is too modern or too old.
-The services are too flashy or too boring.
-The sermons address sin too much or too little.
A life spent centrally focused on those matters is a life wasted. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 explains that the greatest thing you can do spiritually means nothing if it isn’t done in love.
I think that the people we loved will matter much more than the doctrine we debated when we get to the end of our life. I’m convinced the greatest thing we can do is to love God with everything we have and to love others as ourselves (Matthew 22:37-39).
What We Need More Of…
I think we could use more Christians who are living out the scriptures and less Christians who are debating them. More Christians who are preaching sound doctrine and less Christians searching for false doctrine. More Christians living in God’s power and less Christians just talking about God’s power.
It’s easy to sit behind a computer screen debating, disputing, and discussing the Christian faith. What’s hard is actually living it out.
I pray that we will be so busy sharing God’s love that we won’t have time to criticize someone else’s efforts. Extinguishing someone’s light does nothing to brighten yours.