Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
Philippians 2:3-8 New International Version (NIV)
Any time I hear someone say “so and so” is so intolerant, I think to myself, “And so are you?” Just a knee-jerk, human response on my part. For example, I’m not sure some people understand the full meaning of things like being pro-choice. I’m equally certain that there are many who don’t understand what it means to say you are pro-life. In these cases, it isn’t really a matter of which one is right as much as it is a matter of those of us who want to do God’s will actually getting it right by walking in love and not sanctimoniously imposing our judgment on others, but gently reflecting the glory of our God in all that we do, all that we say, think and feel. We can call sin as it is, but at the core of everything we say of our fellow man there should be an obvious and overwhelming display of our love for what God has made, no matter how flawed we, in our own imperfections believe that they may be. With that said, I also understand being frustrated with those who don’t see it as I see it, but we’ll make no progress in helping others to walk in what we believe to be the right direction if we approach them in a haughty or prideful manner. We may think we have it all figured out and that our way is so obviously the best way; that others are just being stupid if they don’t see it that way, but when we start having that as a core belief we fail to keep our focus on the One who really has the answers. It’s a common slip-up and one that we will all make no matter how hard we are trying to follow His word and guidance. It’s part of being human. On that note, the idea that woke me up at five this morning was, “What if He simply will not come back for us until we get it right?”
Our God is a forgiving and merciful God. He wants what is best for us. This is evident throughout Scripture. It occurred to me that He has said He will not punish us in the manner that He has in the past. No floods or anything like that. What if what we are seeing today is a direct manifestation of our disobedience as a church body? We cannot deny that even those of us who call ourselves Christian are not always consistent in our personal walk, yet we have the audacity to judge the actions and beliefs of others. We also cannot deny that the evidence of hate, as we see it in the behaviors of those who claim themselves part of a righteous “body”, are not the reflection of God’s glory that we would have ourselves believe they are. I’ve never understood God to be the type of God who would willingly hurt someone by judging them. I’ve understood Him to be the kind of God who gently, but firmly convicts us in our sin and lovingly moves us past the behaviors we are inflicting upon ourselves so that we can finally come into a place of peace and wholeness through Him and His love. In short, I don’t think I would ever see God in someone who was protesting outside a funeral. I don’t think I would ever see God or hope to associate His presence with those who stand outside abortion clinics and spew hateful remarks toward the women going there who are seeking help. I don’t see God in any action that willingly and knowingly causes another pain. It is not our job to convict others, this responsibility belongs to God and only to God. When we seek to make others feel less than for their choices, we are not reflecting God’s goodness. Sharing a word with someone on what we feel to be right is so different from attempting to impose our will on them in the name of our God.
So, with all of the hate flying around right now surrounding Chick-fil-A’s recent decision and affirmation of their conservative values, I am not surprised to see individuals on both sides throwing their hat into the ring to fight for their right to be the one who has the last word on this subject. I’ve got news for all of them, though. None of them are one hundred percent correct. God has the last word on all of it and instead of using this as an opportunity to wave our own personal values flag in the face of our fellow man, we should all be looking to develop our personal relationship with God so that we can proudly and confidently fly His flag as a means of embracing one another and not as a means of shaming our neighbor. I made a comment about the whole Chick-fil-A thing on Facebook and I feel that it was a pretty good representation of my beliefs. My comment was:
Amazingly, I have received no hateful responses to my comment. For this, I am thankful because I didn’t say it to be hateful. I said it because I felt that I needed to express the sentiment, as I am in this entire post, that we are all often so full of ourselves that we often forget who we are. We are God’s children, all of us. Even those of us who don’t yet realize it. We are all fearfully and wonderfully made by Him. He has a love for each and every one of us that surpasses the size of our ego; a love that isn’t afraid of knowing where we fall short. A love that isn’t worried when what we do doesn’t line up exactly with what He would have us do. A love that is never surprised when we make a wrong choice. A love that knows we are all works in progress and the sooner we realize that and surrender to Him for guidance and support, the sooner we stop fighting each other about who is more right, who is more faithful, who is more righteous. We have got to get over ourselves and take our place under God and His authority if we can ever hope to conquer the biggest enemy we all have. That enemy is bigger than the person next to you who believes in everything you abhor. We need to come face to face with something called humility so that we can know how to fight that bigger evil when the time comes.
The Armor of God
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.