Above All Else
I am keenly aware of the consequences of assumption, yet I assume if you are reading my blog you are interested in what I have to say. I hope my words are meaningful and provide understanding. I hope my honesty facilitates positive change. I hope my transparency reveals something better. I hope my offering points all to Christ.
It is not okay to justify evil and condemn what is right. Though I may have an opinion about whatever is good or evil, in the end, my judgments of those things matter not. While we must strive to make right choices about good and evil matters, ultimately, only God knows how things should be and has the power to make them so. There are some things beyond our ability to control, and, at some point, we need to learn to trust God will take care of what needs to be taken care of.
The other day, I asked my husband his opinion about the current troubles of our world. Though I am concerned about the atrocities taking place, my question was focused most on our reactions to those atrocities. He answered wisely: "Above all else, we are Christians."
I am American and was born and raised in the United States. I am religiously affiliated with the Apostolic Pentecostal faith. I am of German, Welsh, English, and Native American descents. My socio-economic status is middle class. My political leanings are conservative. Though this is who I am, where I come from, where I live, and what I believe, above all of these, I am a Christian.
Christianity is not supposed to be about religion; it's supposed to be about following Christ. If we claim to practice Christianity, it is assumed we adhere to the teachings and practices of Jesus. And if I am a Christian, others should be able to recognize Christ when they are in my company.
Jesus said in Matthew 28:19, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations...," (ESV). He also said in Mark 16:15, "Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation," (ESV).
A Christian is a disciple of Christ. This means we learn, live, proclaim, and then teach Christ.The best indicators of our learning is found in our ability to live and teach what we have learned. But as we follow Jesus' instruction to go and disciple, we will come in contact with some who will reject Christ. Even so, no one will ever embrace Him if never given the opportunity to do so. Therefore, before we teach, we have to proclaim His good news. We do this as we live Christ through our words and actions.
Our world is full of trouble that is overwhelming us, and we have become justifiably angry and fearful. We want to right the wrong so we are driven to constantly confront what we hate and fear. However, in our attempts to make things better, we are actually making them worse because our efforts are rooted in man-made philosophies and solutions. More anger will never relieve the angry. More hurt will never heal the hurting. More fear will never calm the fearful. And more hopelessness will never give hope to the hopeless. The solution to our trouble in not in ourselves. The solution is God.
It's not about "my" politics, "my" opinions, or "my" philosophies. What "I" think is not what the world needs. It is very evident man's ideas change nothing for the better. Man's faulty thinking merely drives humanity towards building man-made kingdoms. The world will never be better following man's way because our man-made solutions are nothing more than the blind leading the blind.
A popular song from the '60s says, "What The World Needs Now Is Love." When considered in the context that God is love, truer lyrics have never been sung. We need God now as much as ever if not more than ever. But if those of us who claim to be following Christ continue to speak and behave differently than Christ, our wrong example could negatively influence how others see Him. Many of us who say we profess Christ need to change for the better. We need to start actually professing Christ.
Christ commissioned His followers to tell the world about Him. We followers will never successfully fulfill His purpose our way. We must do it His way by sharing His good news—by sharing His gospel. His way does not include our lashing out against world trouble from hateful "personal" platforms. Rather, Christ followers should point all to Christ. That is His great commission.
Jesus said, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls," (Matthew 11:28-29, ESV). We are all very weary people. But in Jesus we can experience rest. If we want to influence others to experience His rest, we have to experience His rest first. We can't tell others about His rest if we don't know about it ourselves. We have to learn before we teach. Many of us are not learning to rest in Him at all. Instead, we are wasting time screaming against injustice. We should be learning, living, proclaiming, and teaching His good news and exposing others to Him in positive ways.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:13-16, "You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven," (ESV).
Jesus said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life..." (John 14:6, ESV). We are to learn, live, proclaim, and teach the way, the truth, the life. We are to learn, live, proclaim, and teach Jesus. We are to reflect His gospel—His good news. And we are to do it with love. I Corinthians 13:1-2 teaches if I don't have love, I am nothing more than a noisy gong and clanging cymbal. Without love I am nothing and have nothing to offer.
We want the world to be better. Well, we have to be better first.
Above all else, we are followers of Christ—we are Christians.