Walking through the “yard” (I use the quotes because I don’t know how much of a yard it can be without any grass) at GSU (Georgia State University in downtown Atlanta, where I attend) the other day and there was some kind of rally/protest going on. It was kind of exciting being that it was my first in college, but certainly it wont be my last.
Amidst the people I could see huge signs saying all kinds of things about what God hates and judgment and the like. Then on the other side I noticed people waving the rainbow equality flag and holding up signs about homosexuality and being treated fairly. I couldn’t figure out exactly what each side stood for, nor did I really want to find out. I knew they were Christians and as soon as I realized that I was a little disgusted. And honestly a little embarrassed too.
I only had one thought: Is that was Jesus would do? Would Jesus hold a protest and tell people all the things that were wrong with them?
Now, no doubt that Jesus caused a scene and drew people to him wherever he went, but he didn’t do it with hate or wrath or judgment, although, as the Son of God He has every right to. No, he drew crowds with miraculous acts and incredible teaching. He didn’t go find the prostitutes or the gays or the immoral and condemn them to Hell. He could have though. But he didn’t. Why not? Because he knew that love will win more people than hate. Love will conquer and overcome. Hate will do nothing but suppress and divide.
As a Christian, it is not my job to judge anyone. The Bible says that to the degree that we judge others, we will be judged. It is the job or God and God alone to judge. My job, as a Christian is to be like Jesus and love you in spite of your faults, and shortcomings, lest I forget that were it not for the grace of God, I would be in the same place. I have to love you enough to not let you stay where you are, just as I can’t remain where I am. We must grow together, pulling each other up along the way. I can’t sit there and Lord over you, telling you all the things you’re doing wrong when I’m not even close to perfect. Why am I not perfect? Because I’m still on Earth.
I noticed one thing clearly missing in the middle of the foolishness: Love. I saw no love in anything anyone was doing. There is certainly no love in hate, nor any love in condemning. The Bible says that you would know Christ’s followers by the love that they showed — and not only for those like them, but more so, toward their enemies. After all, even sinners and the immoral can love those that agree with them — it takes something different, something special to love those that disagree with you. It takes the spirit of God.
People don’t care what you know until they know you care. It’s plain and simple. If you care for people, love them without care for what they’ve done, the choices they make, or what others say about them, then they will listen to you. Very rarely will the listen before they know that you have their best interests at heart. The words to Kirk Franklin’s “The Last Jesus” come to mind right about now.
If I say I love Jesus, but you can’t see my Jesus
My words are empty, if they can’t see Jesus in me
No more excuses, I give myself away
Because I may be the only Jesus they see
Who would see these Christians protesting and say to themselves, “You know, I like those Christians; there is something different about them. I want to know more about the God they serve.”?
No one. No one would. I didn’t and I’m one of them! I was repulsed and embarrassed by what I saw. And that’s a shame. You should never be embarrassed of the actions of people you’re supposed to agree with.
Now all those who saw their actions probably have a worse view of Christians than they did this morning. And you know what that means? It means they’re less receptive to the Gospel message and in turn, more likely to go to Hell were they to die tomorrow. Or tonight.
Those protesters have placed themselves squarely in the middle of the “judgmental Christian” stereotype. And did it willingly. People like that make the job of real Christians, the ones who show love to all people equally, yet love you enough to refuse to let you stay where you are, so, so much harder. Now, not only do we have to show love in spite of faults — which is hard enough by itself — we also have to battle against the negativity that other Christians have created for us. It’s frustrating.
So what have we learned? Christians, the goal of your life is to love God, love others, and share the Gospel. Your actions should be a greater testimony than anything that comes out of your mouth. Not only that, but your actions should back up every word you’ve ever said. If you don’t love the people around you, the sinners, they surely don’t want to hear from you and you effectively push the closer to Hell.