If I had a dime for every time someone told me that he or she had been hurt by the church, I’d be able to treat us all to a lovely dinner.
Christians seem to have an endless capacity for injuring and insulting those we dearly desire to bring into fold. I don’t know why; there is no scriptural precedent for doing it. Take, for example, the time the Pharisees set Jesus up for a fall, by pointing out a woman who had been found in the act of adultery and asking Jesus what should be done to her: should she be stoned, as the Law commanded?
Jesus wrote something in the dust–we have no idea what He wrote, but some scholars wonder if He might have been listing the sins and shortcomings of the men standing around Him, each of them holding a rock. And then Jesus said, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” One by one, all of the men left.
Today, all too often, church members find themselves in the same position as the bystanders that day, over two thousand years ago. Our choice is whether we will be the Pharisees or the Lord. When we encounter people who need compassion and understanding, are our faces and hearts hard, like stone? Or do we offer love, understanding and help?
I don’t like the fact that most people, when made aware of my faith, expect me to be judgmental and quick to condemn. I wish that they saw the cross and thought, “Now there’s a person I can count on if I’m in trouble. There’s someone I can confide in without fear of derision.”
But as the graphic above points out, it’s my job to change that perception. I can’t do it by browbeating anyone into understanding that I’m not out to hurt them. I need to prove it by my life, my words and my actions.
Faith means living in such a way that others see me and see joy, hope and peace. I want to live so that those around me want what I have.
After all, isn’t this the point?