What Do People See When They See You?

What witness is the church projecting to the world?

In other words, when the communities around us look at us, what do they see?

We hope they see a group of people committed to loving God and loving people. We hope they see charitable donations and volunteer work. We hope they see hospitals, schools, and other institutions created for the benefit of helping other people.

Unfortunately, what they often see is much less pleasant.

The Christian community has done a great job promoting “truth.” However, we have often done a terrible job promoting relationships.

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Last year, Christians rose to the occasion to support Dan Cathey and Chick-fil-A. Earlier this year, Christians rose to the occasion to support Phil Robertson and the Duck Commander brand. Across the country, Christians rise up to picket Planned Parenthood and abortion clinics. Social media has made these stands easier to take: we can post status updates and pictures that declare we will no longer purchase certain products; we can call people out by name and say they are the voices we need to ignore.

It is done in the name of truth.

But what does the world see?

The world sees that same sex attraction and abortion are unforgivable in the eyes of the church. They see that if you have ever experienced or even considered these things you are not welcome; they see they must be silent and not share their struggles. (What may be even worse is that people within the church who experience same sex attraction or have had an abortion need to work even harder at keeping those things a secret; they must suffer in silence.)

The world goes on to see other things. Not only do they realize same sex attraction and abortion are unforgivable, they begin to recognize that only certain sins attain that kind of status. By looking at the Christians who make up churches, they see that gluttony is permitted. They see that bickering and arguing is often encouraged. They see that gossip and putting people down is a prevalent practice. They may even begin to suspect that greed and hoarding are allowed.

Coveting? Not a problem. Womanizing? We can overlook that. Pride? It’s not that big a deal.

But same sex attraction? Abortion? Addiction? Being poor? Sorry. These are the things that are not allowed.

And what the world sees is that Christians pick and choose their battles and arbitrarily decide who is good enough to be in and who is not.

The world sees the person with multiple sexual partners speaking up against homosexuality.

The world sees the multi-million dollar building go up in the suburbs while the adequate building downtown sits empty.

The world sees the individual running up a bar tab on Saturday night lamenting over the way drugs and alcohol are terrorizing our youth.

The world sees the Christian in the field of science saying other Christians who do not believe in a literal six day creation are going to hell.

The world sees the church supporting the candidate who has worked for tax benefits for corporations while taking money away from services devoted to helping the poor.

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Is this a fair assessment? Is it right?

Maybe. Maybe not. But it does not matter. Why?

We have fought so hard to proclaim ourselves as right we have forgotten what it means to be loving.

Was it wrong for people to support Chick-fil-A or Duck Commander? Not necessarily. Was it wrong to care more for a corporation or a TV show than for the people who were hurt by the words that were said? Absolutely.

Is it wrong to oppose abortion or to call for a literal reading and understanding of the book of Genesis? Not necessarily. Is it wrong to treat people as anathema because they are on the other side of the argument? Absolutely.

I am all for truth. I am all for studying to gain knowledge. But when my quest for the truth takes precedence over the people I am in relationship with, my journey has gone off track. Have you ever paid really close attention to Jesus or the Apostle Paul when they got angry? Who were they angry with? Evolutionists? Abortion doctors? LGBTQQIA activists?

No. They were angry with the people inside the walls of the church (or synagogue, or temple, or whatever). They were angry that the witness for Jesus had been altered into a witness to come off as “right.”

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What witness is the church projecting to the world?

Let us make it one of love. Let us make it one of welcome. Let us make it one of humble service. Let us make it one of walking side by side and arm in arm.

Let us make it a witness of being a people who are broken, hurting, and messed up; a people in need of truth.

And let’s let Jesus take care of the rest.

One thought on “What Do People See When They See You?

  1. State Legislatures and Pharisees: A Call to Consistency | a second time

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