We think it’s about doing things. I mean, consider one of the most popular (I’m doing that quote thing with my fingers) movements of the last few decades: WWJD? Let’s be honest, that was about not lusting and giving it back when you got too much change, or not getting so angry at that horrible driver. That’s all good stuff to shoot for in life, but Jesus is so much bigger than you and I not being such a jerk. But, like that silly fad, we latch onto such things whole hog.
If those bracelets, shirts and lapel pins had any real power, the poor would find themselves better off, the outcasts would find a safe-haven in church and the world wouldn’t be shaking their heads at us about our self-righteous politics, but at our insaneconcept of thinking of the weak, disenfranchised and openly sinful as just as important as ourselves.
Our problem isn’t our desire to be better, it’s the poor reach of our imaginations.
We can’t think past ourselves. We can’t seem to think past the socially unacceptable peccadilloes of our particular denominations or personal belief systems. We so focus on sin that we forget that it has been paid for in full by our God and what that means beyond our superficial worries about things like cigarettes and too-tight yoga pants.
It means letting God ridiculously love others through us who show no love (because we are loved even when we turn our backs on Jesus.)
It means allowing God to inspire generosity toward those who might not deserve it (because riches were poured over us at our least deserving.)
It means trusting God to provoke in us radical kindness to the most sinful people we know (because God was radically kind to us at our worst.)
Sometimes, we despise ourselves because of our sin. Other times we despise others in which we see sin. Neither is helpful or particularly Christian. When we see the weak-willed, the cheaters, the speakers of broken theology, the thieves and the sexually promiscuous, we shouldn’t then look away in disgust. We should see reflections of ourselves—those for whom Christ died. They should stir in us, by God’s grace, a great compassion that moves us to love.
We should ask ourselves what good it does to attack the non-Christians due to their sin? What becomes of the world if we change its laws to match our fastidious moral natures? That world fades and dies. A footnote in a long history of poorly chosen wars the Christian church has chosen to fight. But the men and women we love by God’s power, without measure, those we forgive the unforgiveable (because that’s what Christ does for us), those whom we speak life into—now we’re talking about Eternity.