I’m sure a lot of people remember William Golding’s book about a group of English choirboys who are flown for protection to an island during a supposed nuclear war. The genre of childhood innocence is soon tarnished as they’re forced to fend for themselves and slowly deteriorate into the basest displays of human nature. Major themes include: greed, lust for power, fierce competition, cruelty, discrimination, paranoia, all culminating in murder. The irony of The Lord of the Flies: that as the boys seek to destroy what they feared most…the beast (an unknown enemy and threat)…the reader discovers that the beast is actually in all of us.
This is not a new observation but definitely on the forefront of my attention the past few months. The harder we try, the closer we get, the worse the situation falls apart. It boils down to how we treat people; are we like Christ? Are we gentle, tender, and kind? Or are we privileged, demanding, punitive, and divisive? In our paranoia, insecurity, fear, and ignorance, do we strike out to “destroy the beast (one another)?”
Are We as Christ followers following Christ?
The only thing I see hindering viable ministry in a very needy part of our city is the Church. It’s not lack of facilities, property or finances, not lack of vision or passion, not the secular humanists and the godless liberals, it’s not even the violence on the streets that’s to blame. It’s God’s people not being able to play nice with each other, and share resources and giftings. One of the worst demonstrations of insecurity was a pastor who let a very lucrative financial grant go by because he was unwilling to work with another church on the ministry opportunity. Another congregation has developed a poor, inhospitable reputation in their facility’s neighborhood, and they were bordering on hostility when another church attempted to partner with them. Ministries competing for neighborhoods schedule outreaches at the same time as another’s event, even as close as a block away, to “steal” the crowds.
Territorialism, sheep stealing, defaming other churches and their ministers, scoffing at what other’s are doing, comparing, mocking, ignoring, avoiding, outdoing, competing, etc.
They’ll know we are Christians by our…
Superior attitude? Belligerence? Pugnacious and caustic dispositions? Cheap shots? Outdated and incendiary phrases? Need to get in the last word?
I refer to the internet once more as I have vowed never to engage in a thread ever again. The way Christians speak mercilessly against those with differing or naïve opinions is despicable. They chew them up, spit them out, and then stomp on them. Repeat. Even when people back out of arguments because they’re getting out of hand, the control freaks and blog police continue to berate and slander them. I guarantee this: no one will be attracted to Christ through some of the foolish barbs and taunts being exchanged. It undoubtedly causes people to turn and run in the opposite direction. “All people will know that you are my followers if you love each other” (John 13:35).
Where is the love?
“God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love – like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do” (Ephesians 4:15). I’ve seen so much justification for rude, impatient, cutting, acrid, arrogant, haughty, and self-righteous remarks and responses as “speaking the truth in love.” While many may be speaking the truth, they may miss the love because it’s nowhere to be seen. The word love is once against the Greek word agape which I discussed in a previous blog.
- Let’s be salt and light, not rude and right. #uhohcomeonnow Do we neglect to share our faith because we’re trying to win an argument? Do we jeopardize others’ eternal destination because of our incessant need to be right?
- Let’s be sensitive not repulsive. Are we communicating a willingness to listen? Are we providing a safe place for outsiders to share openly? Or are we condescending, patronizing, and degrading? Can we be bold without being brash? Be excited, be passionate, but please be kind and gentle.
- We can’t be redemptive without being relational. I was told that it’s impossible for us to “win people over.” I know Jesus did through serving, feeding, listening, dining, drinking, etc. People will probably respond better to someone they know and with whom they share mutual respect.
Once again turning to 1 Corinthians 13, let’s see how we’re doing with agape LOVE:
____ never gives up
____ sacrificial not covetous
____ generous not greedy
____ discrete not self-aggrandizing
____ humble not egotistical
____ gentle not demanding
____ concedes not conceited
____ responsive not reactive
____ forgiving not vindictive
____ merciful not punitive
____ committed to fairness not
____ flexible not rigid
____ God-focused not self-seeking
____ believing the best not highlighting the worst
____ confident not timid
____ steadfast not waning
____ tenacious not weak