“It’s just like…Open? Kind? Loving? Accepting? Of course! Why do you have to be told that? Isn’t that the goal everyday and the framework within which we evaluate our thoughts and actions as human beings trying to survive on a planet?” – Kristin Watson Heintz
A couple months ago I posted an article called, Bruce Gender, calling people to listen to the stories of our transgender brothers and sisters and return them with compassion. So many responded favorably and seemed to grasp that it’s not our place to judge, but to offer love instead. Honestly, it didn’t feel I was communicating anything extraordinary as much as I was giving people a voice to say what they already believed – thus the quote from my atheist friend above.
She gets it. She wonders why we (christians) often don’t. I think many of us actually do, but are perhaps too afraid to say it.
In Christians circles there can be a tendency to put love and truth at opposite ends of the spectrum.
“You can’t just teach about love. You have to teach the truth as well.”
Newsflash: Love and Truth are not third cousins twice removed. They are sisters. These two do not exist on opposing sides of a weighted scale, as if love has made a mess of things and truth is being sifted in to bring the righteousness of God into balance. This irrational thought is our go-to whenever we are uncomfortable with the sheer power of unconditional love. We don’t know how to receive it ourselves (much less offer it) so we ask it to sit second chair in the great symphony of salvation.
But LOVE doesn’t play second fiddle to truth. Not ever.
Greatest commandment? Love God. Second like the first…love your neighbor. It doesn’t say to truth God and truth your neighbor. It says “LOVE.”
I have a young friend that I talk “Life” with fairly often. This is what he said in response to reading Bruce Gender.
“What if as Christians, our love was more rigid and our beliefs were more fluid?”
Please take a moment with that before you read any further. Read it over again. Sit with it for just a second. Write it down in your journal.
And honestly, maybe neither are fluid. But if only one is, why do we often assume it’s love?
In my circle of evangelical friends, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone say something like this. We’ve all heard people say, “We must stand up and tell people the truth!” But on non gay-marriage day, can you imagine someone saying, “Let’s head down to Chick-Fil-A and show people our LOVE!”? It may sound funny to us, but when you think about it, it’s anything but funny.
“But their lives are wrong,” you might say. All due respect, but so is yours. Don’t believe me? Just check your internet history. Or your bank account. Or your deadly sins list (gluttony, lust, greed, laziness, rage, envy, pride) Get caught yet? If not, circle back around to pride…ah yes, there we go.
“Right…but you can’t just continually accept them as they are and expect them to change.” You’re absolutely right. So instead, just continually accept them as they are and don’t EXPECT anything…other than friendship.
We have got to stop this nonsense of taking other people’s spiritual inventories – especially when we’ve got enough to worry about in our own lives. It doesn’t mean we can’t talk with people, love them, and then express our opinion about what we believe is the truth. We can. But if they don’t like you, you’re dead in the water.
Or if you are pointing your finger and (as my mom used to say) three are pointing back at you, well…“You better worry about yourself, Son.”
Have we not yet learned this lesson?
I don’t say this to be an irritant. I say it so we can learn how to be effective and productive with this beautiful love/truth God-Mix we’ve been asked to represent. So seriously…if what you’re doing isn’t working, try something else.
Here’s how to know whether or not it is working:
Do you have any friends who do not believe in God or who believe something far different from what you believe? And I’m not talking acquaintances or the folks who moved in next door. I’m talking actual friends. Meaning, you hang. You bail them out. They bail you out.
If not, you’ve got work to do.
Also, if there ARE people in your life that don’t believe in God or who believe something far different from what you believe, here’s a question? It’s real simple. Do they like you? Do they trust you? Do they find you at work so the two of you can chat? Do they ask you to hang?
If not, you’ve got work to do.
And if you think you’re gift to them is The Truth…try this on for size, because I promise it will fit like a glove.
“If truth is not undergirded with love, it makes the possessor of that truth obnoxious and the truth repulsive.” – Ravi Zacharias
For those reading who want to change (who want to love people instead of truth people), I am encouraging you to find someone who is already doing it and learn from them. Buy them lunch. Ask them questions. See if they’ll invite you to their next shin-dig.
And for those who say they love gay people and transgenders only to ease their spiritual conscience, I’m telling you…it’s now or never. So please consider that it may be time to own up to the reality that your life is more of a spiritual museum than a hospital. And I don’t think God particularly cares all that much for relics. He LOVES the wounded though. (Party of one.)
Remember my friend, Kristin…the atheist friend with the quote at the top of this article?
“Open? Kind? Loving? Accepting? Of course! Why do you have to be told that?”
She gets it. She wonders why we don’t. I’ve kind of been wondering myself.
So I implore you, find a way to shed the pretend love. Because it’s just not okay anymore.