He knew them…do I?

My heart has been burdened for a while now with something I couldn’t quite find words for. So this is an attempt to put into words what I’ve been wrestling with.

First of all, I hate the news media. I see it as a moderately necessary evil. Some days, if I could just completely stick my head in the sand and avoid the headlines, I wouldn’t hesitate.

The headlines of late are not unique. They’re not new issues. The responses to them are not new either. What is relatively new is how quickly we are able to share and like opinions and information. It’s these responses that have me so troubled.

This post is not about any particular headline, there are plenty to choose from. It’s about how quick so many believers are to pick a side and argue a point.

There are certainly absolute truths, and the Bible is very clear on a lot that we like to make muddy. But I think we would be wise to always remember that we each bring our biases, rooted in our past and experiences, when making judgements about the actions and motivations of other people.

As a believer, I hold strong convictions about several things. I have very clearly defined views on lots of things I believe God considers sin.

That said, I also feel so strongly that it is not my place, nor is it beneficial as a believer to try to educate the masses about the particulars of those convictions or views through Facebook or any other social media. And I’m burdened by the fact that so many of us see social media as our platform to help others see the truth about their sins or foolishness.

I’ve seen an interesting comment made several times recently. When someone posts a blast attacking Christians for their hate-filled judgement and brings up the point that “Jesus would have loved these people and so should we”…a common response is to point out that Jesus also would have told those people to “go and sin no more”.

For a while now I’ve seen that response and felt conflicted, but I couldn’t really put my finger on why.

Because the reality is, it’s true. Both parts.

Jesus would have sat down with the adulterer, the murderer, the gang member, the racist, the woman who had an abortion, the homosexual, the parent who neglected their child, the political leader who abused their power, the young person who disregarded authority, the individual in a position of authority who misused it…and He would have loved them something fierce!

And then, after ministering to the root issue that got them where they were to begin with, He would have instructed them to ‘go, and sin no more’.

God loves us just the way we are, and enough to not let us stay that way.

But I think we have to remember who Jesus was to these people to be able to apply this part of his ministry to our lives.

He knew the people He ministered to. It may have been their first time meeting Him face to face, but He knew them. He knew their hearts, their desires, their past, their heartaches, and their hurts.

I just have to wonder, for each of these ‘issues’ that believers are so quick to to form an opinion about, and are so eager to share the truth regarding…do they personally know someone in those shoes?

I don’t mean do they know of someone. It’s not the same thing to say, ‘oh, I have a family member who…..’ as it is to have a relationship built on mutual trust and communication with someone who…fill in the blank.

Here’s why I think this is important to consider.

Yes, there are things that are black and white, right and wrong, wise and unwise. And in some situations, we may know the Truth that can set someone free. But we are fooling ourselves if we think we’re breaking any chains by sharing statistics casually through Facebook or re-tweeting a person’s opinion who says what we are thinking about a hot-button issue. And if our posts are not bringing about another’s good, then why are we posting?

Yes, Jesus both loved and admonished those He encountered who were living contrary to God’s ways.

He also knew them.

If you are angry at a parent who has neglected or abused their child, I encourage you to go to where there are most likely to be parents who are struggling. Struggling to make it as a single parent. Struggling to parent through the fog of mental illness. Get to know the parents of the children in your child’s life. Invest in them and their children. Make yourself available to meet tangible needs. Listen. Ask God for wisdom and discernment to know how and when to speak Truth into their life. And love them.

If abortion is a burden for you, then you could go somewhere where real women are being faced with the decision. Don’t anonymously hold a sign in the parking lot. Make yourself available to her. Listen to her. Pray that God help you understand her and give you wisdom and discernment to speak Truth to her. And love her.

If the race wars are frustrating to you and you don’t understand why people can’t just ‘let it go and move on’, then go where there are people who are not like you. Meet people who bring an entirely different set of experiences and perspectives and get to know them. Lovingly ask questions for the purpose of understanding and not for the purpose of finding answers to validate your perceptions. Allow God to chip away at the prejudices that we ALL bring to our interactions with others, and to give you wisdom and discernment to know how and when to speak Truth into their lives. And love them.

Convictions are real and important. God calls us to holiness and is grieved when we disregard His laws. It’s perfectly appropriate to challenge those whom God has placed in your sphere of influence in areas where sin is evident.

But words matter.

They matter because they can build up or break down the person you are hoping to ‘save’ or convince or sway. And they matter because ‘…out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks’ (Luke 6:45). 

What are our words reflecting to the world, particularly to unbelievers or new believers? Do they reflect a heart that is full of wisdom, compassion, discernment, and grace? Or do our words reflect a heart that is full of fear, pride, speck hunting (Luke 6:41-42), and hate?

My prayer is that when we see headlines and statistics that are troubling, we would be quick to go into our closet and seek the Lord and His mind concerning the matter. And that we would be slow and prayerful about how we respond, particularly publicly.

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (‭Colossians‬ ‭4‬:‭5-6‬ ESV)

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