Tuesday, October 27, 2009

part i: love.

There are times in my life when I am at a complete and utter loss for words. 

This is not one of those times. 

In fact, the past few days I've had a lot of words on my heart. Thus far, they have gone unspoken, and many will remain that way. But some need to be said. They need to be spoken in order to be understood, so that my heart and the burden on it can be lifted.

So here it goes. 

These words, supposedly spoken by Mahatma Gandhi, frequently haunt me:

I like your Christ, but I do not like your Christians. They are nothing like your Christ. 

I'm not sure I'm more scared of anything.

I do not want to be an ineffective disciple of Christ. 

I strongly believe that the world is seeking something. And for many, their seeking will ultimately lead to some type of belief. I hope and pray it is a belief in the God I serve. 

The God that created the universe. 

The God that sent His Son. 

The God that raised His Son. 

The God that loved. 

The God that forgave. 

This is the God I want others to know. 

But the only way many will know Him is by me: by my actions and the actions of my brothers and sisters. 

This is where I hit a brick wall. 

Because the church is full of a bunch of imperfect, immature people. People who make mistakes. Who hurt others. Who pass judgments and say things that should remain unsaid. 

People like me. And you.

And so I think about Gandhi, and what Christians he must have met that made him feel the way he did. 

My Sunday school lessons taught me at least this: "Christian" is literally translated "little Christ." When I put that name on, when I became one with Him, I took on His name. And His name is supposed to mean everything. It's supposed to cover me. My actions are no longer my own. My words are no longer my own. 

They are His. 

Gandhi should have seen Christians and seen Christ. 

As I frequently tease with my parents and my husband: We are the only Jesus some might ever see.

And I mess up. My words come out wrong. My actions fail me (and Him). But I repent, and I begin again. 

So, what about the church? 

What happens when the church, when my brothers and sisters and those set apart to lead, mess up? 

When judgments are passed and good work is left undone? 

When priorities are misplaced and verses are plucked from their context?

What kind of message are we sending? 

Is it love? 

Because in all my reading of Scripture, in all my classes, in all my years at Christian school and at my parents' dinner table, I learned this: 

God is love. 

His Son is love. 

So we are love. 

All of Scripture-- every chapter, every verse-- boils down to that. Love. 

And if we're not loving, then I think something is wrong. 

And if the verses we quote and if the message we preach is not said in love, then we're not representing Him. 

We've failed. 

Our mission has failed. 

My words should be His. Not ripped from passages, not misquoted, not said out of arrogance or malice or self-righteousness. 

My words should be His. Said out of love, after prayer, and with a desire for peace. 

God is love. 

His Son is love. 

We are love. 

And our words, which are His, should be love. 

I have to get better at that. Our church has to get better at that. 

Because we may be the only Jesus people ever see.


Amanda said...

You're right. I can never hear these words too often. Thank you for saying this.


Nee-Na said...

I loved this. You know how to say things just right. Mama was very impressed. We love you