We who call ourselves Christians lost a great deal over the past few days, though it’s probably not in the way you might think.
1) We lost the chance to be loving.
So many professed followers of Jesus spent the last week on the attack, desperately fighting a battle long after it had already been decided. Instead of simply looking for ways to personally affirm our faith in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision, too many of us frankly just lost it. We spit out vitriol and we cursed strangers and we lamented America’s demise and we threatened with Bible verses and we treated others with contempt. Our response to the LGBT community and those who support them wasn’t compassion and decency and peacemaking, it was sour grapes, damnation, and middle fingers.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:35
2) We lost the chance to be good neighbors.
Rather than using the events of this past week as the springboard for conversation with people around us; as a way to build relationship with those who may not share our beliefs or our worldview, we pushed them further away. We used our social media profiles and our workplaces and our cul-de-sac chats to create distance between us and those who disagree with us. We stood on principles and we walked all over people. We became really difficult to live with and be around.
He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” Luke 10:27
3) We lost the chance to be Good Samaritans.
We could have looked around at the hurt generated this past week; at the deep sadness so many LGBT people and their loved ones felt at being the center of such violent arguments and the horrible aftermath of them. We could have responded with mercy and gentleness, seeking to be the binders of the wounds. Instead, far too many of us stood on our soap boxes and rubbed salt deeply into them. We basically walked past those who were down—and we kicked them hard on the way.
“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:36-37
4) We lost the opportunity to show how big God is.
With all the fatalistic sky is falling rhetoric and raw-throated “The End is Near” prognostications, what so many Christians did for the watching world was inadvertently paint the image of a God who is hopelessly on the ropes; not all-powerful, not all-knowing, not at all able to withstand the slightest changes in our world. We completely neutered God by horribly overstating the circumstances and crying wolf yet again.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
5) We lost the chance to reflect Christ.
Let’s be honest: some of us really dropped the ball this week on both sides of the discussions. Many of us crusaded on social media or staged tirades from the pulpit or spewed hatred across dinner tables. We argued and complained and petitioned and boycotted and protested, and we did just about everything but leave people with the sweet, restful essence of Jesus. We instead left them a Christ devoid of compassion or kindness or love, and we ensured that many who previously saw all Christians as judgmental, hypocritical jerks—felt completely correct in those assumptions. Faced with people who disagreed with us, we talked about them, shouted at them, yet failed to listen to them.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16
6) We lost people.
We gave those who live outside of our faith tradition, very little reason to move any closer. By choosing to be rude and argumentative and hateful, we made Jesus fairly irrelevant; an option not really worth considering. Make no mistake, the eyes of the world were fully on the American Church this week, and too much of what they saw was a pretty lousy testimony to a God of love. Many people looked at the rotten fruit of our faith and simply turned away for good.
Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! Matthew 18:7
This stuff should simply break our collective hearts.
All of us who claim Christ need to do some honest, invasive personal reflection.
Regardless of our feelings about the Supreme Court’s decision, it’s clear that Christians lost far more valuable things than a 5 to 4 vote this week; things that we better fight like Hell to get back.
By John Pavlovitz