I’ve heard it said that Christians are known more for who we hate than how we love. What do you think? Unfortunately, I believe it’s far too often true. There are many ways people take Christianity, and many things which they think it’s really about. It may be about following a liturgy, personal spirituality, social action, doctrine, morality, etc. All of these things are good and have their place, but what is actually primary and central?
Reading through the old testament, one hears God giving a lot of rules and making a big deal about following them. He seems to be quite strict on all of this. Even in the new testament there seem to be a lot of instructions on how we are to act. One very prevalent take on Christianity is that it’s mostly about not sinning, or in other words, morality is key. As mentioned, you can certainly see in the Bible how the people of God are supposed to act differently. So it’s not difficult to see how this has become emphasized, especially among conservative Christians.
But is this most important? Is this central? Is God most concerned about us standing up for what is commanded in the Bible? Is God most concerned that everyone in the world know right from wrong, even if they don’t believe in him and aren’t following him? Or is God most concerned that Christians win in the public square, such that being a Christian is socially acceptable and others are not?
If these are actually the main things that God is concerned about and what Christians are to be known for, then what’s found here and here are right and what we Christians should be standing up for. It’s us verses them, and if we don’t fight back, they’re going to win and ruin the good thing we’ve got going here. I mean it sounds really good. What good Christian wants to let the “sexual anarchists” run wild? Gosh, the gays are out to get us! Surely we need to fight back and make sure God “wins”, right? We’ve got to stand up for what’s right and not compromise, right?
Near the end of his time on earth, Jesus gave some important instructions to his disciples. He told them, “Everyone will know you’re my disciples by how you stand up uncompromisingly for what is right,” and “Go into all the world and teach people right from wrong; make sure they don’t sin, and don’t let anyone oppose you.” Wow, that’s sounds so right and good, and I can easily imagine it being the focus of many Sunday morning sermons. How well do you know the Bible? Do you know where Jesus said these things? Did you notice that I didn’t include references? That’s because the quote are from the twenty-forth chapter of not-found-in-there.
What did Jesus actually say? “Everyone will know you are my disciples by your love for one another.” Hmmm. “Go into all the world and make disciples.” Being a disciple means doing the things the teacher does. Jesus? He walked around, taught, healed and allowed his enemies to kill him. Hmmm. But of course Jesus had a strong affection for the people who boldly stood up for right and wrong. They were of course the Pharisees, whom Jesus was good friends with… er… wait, whom Jesus criticized more than any other group—wait, what? That can’t be right…
I’ve taken a long time to set up what I really want to talk about. I think I’ve found one person who really gets it. He loves people unconditionally. And I want to ask you, which do you think is going to really impact people? Which is really a light to the world, showing people what God is really like? Are people who are not close to God going to read the previously linked articles and come away saying, “Wow, God is really good; I see the light now, we really need to make sure we outlaw homosexuality”? But people are taking notice of this guy, Andrew Marin. He and his organization were just recently featured as the feature story on BBC’s website, and people noticed as it is apparently one of the most popular stories.
I love it. Here’s one Christian simply loving people—the people that Christians aren’t supposed to love. And people are noticing. Can you imagine people who are not close to God learning about the Marin Foundation and thinking, “Wow, maybe God could love me after all; maybe I should give him a chance”? I can. And no doubt to the chagrin of both conservatives and progressives, Marin foundation doesn’t have a stance on homosexuality; they neither say it’s ok nor do they condemn it.
I’ve heard it said that (I believe this applies to conservative evangelicals primarily) Christians are of the world but not in it. In other words, we’ve segregated ourselves. But not Andrew Marin. We can’t be a light to a world we’re not in. Many people who aren’t close to God know Christians by their hate in part because they don’t know any Christians—all the Christians are hiding out in their own culture of church and (in some cases) conservative Christianity. So are we supposed to stay safe and clean, or are we supposed to be spreading God’s love?