There’s someone in my life who despises Christianity.
This makes our relationship interesting because I’m pretty clear about my faith as a Christian.
I’ve heard the reasons why. It’s not so much about Christianity itself, but about first-hand experience with those who claim to follow Jesus Christ. Witnessing hatred, critical judgments, unjustified condemnations, and hypocritical actions has caused this one to run as far away from Christianity as possible. With this, my heart is grieved, but I guess I can understand. I walked through something similar a couple of years ago, yet the difference for me was in Who I put my faith in.
My faith is in Jesus. Not in people.
The Christians I know well aren’t like those this person has experienced. The ones I spend time with aren’t filled with hatred, they aren’t condemning, they aren’t living hypocritical lives. They are just doing their best at daily living out their faith as they love God and love others.
But people are people. We aren’t perfect, even though the One we follow is. We can certainly mess this Christianity up. I cringe at how I used to be so rigid in my faith. I wonder how many people I sent running too.
I’m reminded of Jesus’ words to His disciples before his death:
So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. Everyone will know you as My followers if you demonstrate your love to others. John 13:34-35 Voice
Just because this person in my life doesn’t believe the way I believe, it doesn’t mean we can’t be friends. It doesn’t mean we can’t get along. And it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t.
Some may wonder why I hang out with those who don’t share the same faith as me. Others may question why I spend time with people who don’t yet have a relationship with God.
I hang out with them because I like them. I enjoy their company. I might be the only one in their lives who loves Jesus. And so, I try to love them with His love. I don’t always do that perfectly, however, or even well. Jesus’ love is perfect. Mine is not.
Last weekend at our Bible Study Fellowship Retreat, one breakout session impacted me. Emily, the speaker, inspired me to be about loving others for the simple fact each person is an image-bearer of God. Not because they believe the same as me. Not because they live the way I think they should. Not because of what they do or don’t do.
We can love people because they are made in God’s image.
She shared with us an encounter she (a Christian) had with a Satanic priest who sat beside her on a recent flight. She spoke of their conversation, and her desire to get to know him as a person. She engaged him by asking questions. Many of his words to her were unkind. She learned he hated Christians, because “Christians hated him.” He said he would have numerous emails waiting for him on his arrival home “from Christians wanting to kill him.”
She listened. She shared truth when appropriate. She showed him kindness and love. She showed him what a genuine Christian looks and acts like.
She didn’t get angry. She didn’t judge him. She didn’t try to convert him. She simply displayed the love of Jesus because even he was made in God’s image.
By the end of the flight, his demeanor slightly changed. He offered to assist her with her bags, and then went on his way. Not all Christians hate him. How would you and I have handled this encounter?
I believe the words “Christians” and “hating others” do not belong together.
May we be known by our love, not by our hate.
Yes, we are to hate sin. But we aren’t to hate the sinner. We are all sinners. We all fall short. And I may be the one who falls the shortest.
I want to be known by my love. I want to love others to Jesus. If you’re a Christian, I imagine you do too. We’ve been given the greatest gift through God’s Son, and of course we want to share it!
May we do it only out of love. May we be about loving others because they are image-bearers of God, Himself.
Linking this post with Barbie and friends for #WeekendWhispers.