I’ve been putting this post off for a while now. Partly because I don’t know how to express what’s weighing so heavily on my soul, and partly because I’d rather not be the one to address it. But no one else has, so here I am.
This is a message for my people. The ones I grew up among and love. The ones I can count on, the people who I’ve known my whole life, the ones whose world I feel I understand.
There’s something that is breaking my heart. Slicing it in half and keeping me up in the middle of the night in tears. I’m begging you to hear me out on it, because it’s weighing into the pits of my soul.
I understand where you’re coming from. I grew up with you; I was culturally trained to think like you. We’re American. We believe in our rights, our freedom to express ourselves, and good old hard work. I get that, I understand that. I believe in it too.
But right now, I scroll through my Facebook feed and listen to the discussions among the people I come from, and my heart leaps into my throat because we’re missing something.
We talk about issues like Ferguson and Baltimore and we sneer. We shake our heads in disgust and feel rage in our hearts. They’re acting like animals! we cry. Breaking apart their own cities, and for what? Lazy thugs! Maybe if they wouldn’t get all these hand-outs this wouldn’t happen. How dare they blame us for their own crimes?
We claim to be Little Miniature Christs. Followers who take his principles in radical hand and imitate his every move. Followers of this man who died for the least of the earth, the scum of society. Who said, over and over, that we have to lay down ourselves, our opinions, our pride, our self-righteousness, if we want to follow him. The man who condemned condemnation and embodied a love so fierce he gave up everything for the worst.
And here we stand, exempting ourselves. Casting our verbal stones. Condemning our own countrymen with distaste and disregard, grasping onto an eye for an eye as we shout “they deserve to be punished for this!”
You say it’s not about race, about the color of someone’s skin. And I understand how you feel, and what you’re telling me. But the truth is, we have to admit something to ourselves.
We’ve taken on this American cultural lie that you have to choose one side and then yell at the other for being wrong. That if you don’t think like me, you should go find another country and live there.
We think we’re not cultural, because we might dress differently or listen to different music or bring our neighbor’s kids to Sunday School. But as a people our minds are just like the world. We’re picking sides just like our culture has trained us.
Let me say something, and I’m begging you to hear it.
Jesus doesn’t care if the Baltimore rioters should get a job. He doesn’t care that they live in a country where they could work with their hands instead of live on welfare. He doesn’t care that they have no right to burn down the buildings of their own cities.
He doesn’t care that you disagree with the politics or gun conversations surrounding the Charleston shooting either.
Jesus said, If you call a man a fool you deserve Hell fire.
Jesus said, Instead of an eye for an eye, don’t resist. If someone takes from you, give them double what they took.
Jesus said, If you give clothes, food, a drink, a kind welcome, or a visit in prison to the very least of society, then you’ve given it to God Himself.
Jesus said, If we don’t do those things to the least of society, we have failed to do them for God Himself.
What if being Little Christs means laying down our massive pride long enough to see that these people – the ones we judge as the scum of our society – are image bearers of the same God we are?
What if it means that we treat every single person as if they were Christ himself – even the lazy ones, the criminals?
What if we love these neighbors of ours as much as we love ourselves – granting them the dignity to be heard, desiring the best for them, giving them our kindness – instead of yelling over their voices with cruel names and spitting on them in our hearts?
What if we visited and cared for and talked about the people we call animals and criminals and idiots – and treated them like Christ Himself, walking on our Earth?
What if that broken, beaten man in the story of the Good Samaritan is a broken kid with a broken life acting out in broken ways, and we could come to his aid – but we’re passing on by with our noses in the air?
Instead of improving our means to communicate and understand each other, we are creating a vaster chasm between the sides. Every verbal rock we throw is knocking down a portion of common ground, making that gaping hole of mistrust, disbelief, and anger wider.
If we don’t watch out, soon we’ll be so far apart that we won’t even have the materials left to build a bridge.
We Miniature Christs should have started building the bridge a long time ago. We should stand firmly now before our fellow rock-throwers and urge them not to do it. To come use their rocks for building the bridge instead of breaking all the common ground away.
For our country this is an issue of unity. For Christians, this is much weightier. This is an issue of loving our God, of being his ambassadors. We have no right to continue on in hate, when we have been offered infinite love and redemption, no matter our own flaws and mistakes and indecencies.
John said if we don’t love our brother, we can’t say we love God. How many times have we read that? How many? Do our eyes see? Do our ears hear? The reason my heart is ripping in half over this is that we’ve lost the love of our brothers – our own countrymen! – and we’re forgetting that we received free redemption. We’re not only misrepresenting our King Jesus, but we’re not even loving our Father – not the way Jesus described Love.
“We love because he first loved us.
If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar;
for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
1 John 4:19-21 (ESV)
Please hear my plea, my friends. Please open up your heart enough to let this digest.