What made the message of Christ so radically different than all the other religious movements, sects and groups some 2000 years ago? There were other philosophers, great teachers, leaders, movers, and shakers. There have been perhaps hundreds, maybe thousands of startups since then, if I can use a modern secular term here. Christ and Christianity flourished as a flower in a well-watered garden – yet it was planted in a desert of a racial divide, of war, genocide, and hate.
Having attended my first Global Leadershership Summit, I believe the answer lies in the core and fundamental message portrayed by a people from all walks of life, in different companies, charities, churches, and organizations, in different leadership positions and with different callings – to be brave in the face of loving others.
What sets Christianity apart is the enduring truth that God created all men equal – that there is truly no racial divide in His kingdom, that His promise and His love is measured unto all, liberally, and with blinded eyes, God’s hands open without spreadsheets and psychoanalysts pinpointing who is worthy of help, who has the most money to give, who is best dressed, who is holy.
We can squabble as a Church body over what robes you wear and what words you mumble, at what times and in what order you step here, or there, what music God likes/dislikes, and make a lot of broad assumptions about God, and for God – but we can’t change for God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
God so loved the world…can you meditate on that for a minute? I know blogs are supposed to be short… but can you picture in your mind the world God was loving? As a human, I always attach this phrase to me, my family, my trials, and problems, my city, my country, my world. Yet this world was one in which He [Christ] knew He was going to have to be brave to love, for it was going to reject him, spit on him, torture him, and crucify him.
I listened to Bryan Stevenson, a young lawyer fighting for the justice of all, especially children in a judicial system focused on punishment instead of love, and the heart-shattering story of an 11-year-old boy, sentenced to 40 years in prison for killing the man who he thought had just beat his own mother to death in front of his eyes.
I wept as Immaculee Ilibagiza told her remarkable story of surviving the horrific Genocide of Rwanda in 1994, where over a million people were slaughtered in three short months, including her family, because of hate. And I weep tears writing this, and I did then, and not for the million lives that are lost, as gut wrenching as that is, but because Immaculee, through God’s love, found a way to love and to forgive those who took her world away from her and to pursue loving those people.
I felt a rallying cry in my soul as Gary Haugen, founder, and CEO of International Justice Mission told of the 48,000,000 people estimated to be living in slavery around the world today, and the sheer number of young children used as sex slaves while we idle on our chairs reading books, sipping lattes and swimming in the river. The real bravery is facing uncertainty, ruin, even the loss of your own life to rescue and save people from the injustice of hate, through the power of Christ’ love.
When Michael JR., Christian comedian, and hopeful entrepreneur shared the story of a family who felt led to adopt and foster children in their faith, wanting to touch and love the lives of the less fortunate. Michael Jr., felt God calling him to do something big for this family.
The story of a husband and wife in Oklahoma who ran a successful small business manufacturing water pumps, who had income and retirement all figured out, who would go on to live on easy street, but who, through seeming chance was called by God to the great mission fields of China, and Africa to bring running water – just think about that as you drink your smart water, to bring running water to people who had never seen clear water spill from a pipe. To a people who would shout, and scream, and weep, and dance, for a clear liquid that came running out of a small 1″ PVC pipe.
“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” – Matthew 25:40
It is the least of these that sets Christianity apart. It is what you do with the least of these that marks your Christianity. Please hear my heart, there is no criticism or judgmentalism in me today, just a heart felt calling that we MUST do MORE for the least of these! I must, if I wish to continue calling myself a Christian.
Listen – I come from a church background that huddled itself in a small circle of self-righteous that thought the greatest adornment of their piety was showing that they were not like the rest of Christendom – they were the real ecclesia – they had strict dress standards, and behavior standards – assigned seating and nearly arranged marriages, the platform was perfect, the music was perfect, the shoes were polished and the hair cuts were always fresh. It was a model of doing your best for God and loving others – so long as others went along with the program. If not, find somewhere else to go.
With love, I say this, and not malice – but if that is what bravery in the face of loving others is, I don’t want to go to church tomorrow. Love there, at church, was convincing someone that to be holy and to see God you couldn’t wear short sleeve shirts and be right with God, or metal tie clips for fear of being prideful and showy. And yes, pride is a great sin we must avoid.
But when there are young girls at the age of 8 being abused, and when there are genocides raging, and pumps to be installed, and hunger to be fed, and lives to be graced with moments of real, open handed love that shows no favor to one but shows favor to all, when lives are being lost in the pursuit of loving others, when careers and pensions are abandoned for the free will of God and all self-hope is given up – there is no convincing me that holiness is found huddled in a small local church attempting to be better than other Christians. Why not fight to be better than the hate that is in the world!
What are we Fighting For?
God did NOT command us, saying, Whatsoever you do unto yourself, you do unto me… No Church! He said Whatsoever you do unto the least of these…
He didn’t come saying, Strive to be better than each other… No Church! He came saying Have unity in the Spirit, and that unity is what will create LOVE.
He did NOT come saying dress right, sing right, play the part right, be perfect and I’ll bless you. No Church! He came saying abandon your ideals of pomp and ceremony, don’t worry about your clothing, your money, how you will be fed, who will like you and who will not and GO! Go to the lost, and the broken, the hungry, the destitute…the least.
In my article Put Your Money Where Their Mouth Is, we found this gem in Scripture and it is what I will close with today. Please accept this as my heart’s passion to find a calling – for me, and you got to come along for the ride!
“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” – James 1:27, KJV