I grew up in a Southern Baptist household, and we hold some pretty conservative values.I cannot count the number of times I heard someone tell someone else that they were praying for them. When I was younger that always seemed so sweet. Wow! Someone is thinking about someone else so much that they include them in their daily prayers! I hate the way we lose innocence as we grow up, and we see hate in things that should be so loving.
I’ve watched friends go through some really hard times and even myself… then someone uses that phrase, and I cringe. Have you ever thought that that statement doesn’t sound as loving as it should?
With the recent legislature and Supreme Court decisions, Facebook has me cringing 98 percent of the time. Thank goodness for the dog videos and the lady with the Chewbacca mask.
I have never read a Bible verse that tells me I can’t be friends or love someone because of their differences from me. I understand not shopping at Target because you disagree with their stance. I understand that. What I don’t understand is showing hate to the people that continue to shop there or using hateful language to announce your decision not to shop there.
Somewhere along the way we have confused showing love and acceptance for human beings with somehow worshiping them.
I was confronted with a situation in likeness, and then I reflected on people going through times where they had made a decision outside the acceptable sins of the southern baptist religion*. I realized how hateful our actions and our words are following the realization that people are sinners!
Somewhere along the lines we decided that defiance and angry words were more powerful than showing God’s love. We decided that God meant for us to love the people we think we can accept – to love the people that live a life close enough to our own that if associated with them, we know that people won’t confuse our own stance.
If I had to guess, Jesus today would be talking with drug dealers, he’d be loving on single mothers, and yes, he’d even talk to transgender persons using a bathroom in Target. He’d meet with them wherever they are, wherever they felt comfortable. (Sidenote: do you ever wonder that people don’t want to go to church not because they don’t want to worship or don’t want to hear the message, but they don’t want to see the judgment in the churchgoer-s eyes? I know this is true because Bible studies at coffee shops have much more success than Sunday night attendance at churches.)
This has been on my heart for about a year now. I’ve decided that I don’t like the way I judge. I think that God hates the way I judge. I think God has put me in situations where I have been judged publicly because of the way I judge. He’s put me in situations where my sin is the one being talked about and argued about among the deacons and Sunday School teachers. I honestly think that my judgement is the biggest black scar on my record, and trust me, in southern baptist terms it’s not. We’ve all had choices that we know are against God’s will, but have you ever stopped to think how often the words that come out of your mouth are against God’s will? Or even just the thoughts that never make it to words!
If God were to put me in jail for every judgmental or hateful thought that passes my lips, I’d be sentenced to life plus infinity. But what if we included the way we look at people after we’ve heard a rumor? What about the way I pray in the same room with them at church! What about all of the small ways we show our disagreement with their particular situation that is so hateful.
How about the way we walk up to them and say “I’m praying for you.” What if we changed it a bit… What if we took a statement that is supposed to be filled with love and actually fill it with love. What if we said we are praying for their future, for their personal life, for their relationship? What if we were particular about what we are praying about (and that we actually did pray for them!). What if, instead of “praying the gay away” or whatever you’re praying to go away, we pray for their heart, their peace of mind! What if we pray that they are right with God personally. Or what if we ask them what they want us to pray for them for?!?!?
What if we were as loving as Jesus.
What if we loved even a little like Jesus.
Sometimes I wonder if the day we see judgement that God is going to use his sense of humor and judge us with the same judgement we use to judge people.
I think God is working on everyone in His way and in His time. I think our prayers should focus on our stances and our decisions and particularly our words. The Bible says that the tongue is sharper than a sword, and I don’t think we really understand that God is saying our words can be sharper than our actions. Which means that little muscle inside our mouth probably commits more sins than all our other muscles put together.
So my prayer is that God listens to the prayers of the hurting people around me and that he’d teach me to love like Jesus.
*I say acceptable sins of the southern baptist religion because we all know that we accept some sins and then we call the rest to be abominable – when in all actuality, sin is sin, and we are all painfully guilty.