Recently, I was meeting with a friend who was telling me about an encounter they had at their workplace. One of their coworkers was sharing why they left their church years ago. Christianity, the coworker claimed, was a crutch for the weak. And he insisted that people should no longer need that crutch.
The friend I was meeting with was highly offended. The implication that their love of Jesus made them weak offended them deeply, and they quickly responded to their coworker with pointed words. They defended their faith, and let me know that they put their coworker in their place.
I understand that impulse – to defend ourselves; our faith. But still, his account of the encounter troubled me. So I asked… “What if you imagined that in that moment, you were not there for yourself, but for your coworker. What if, rather than justifying your faith to your coworker, and defending yourself, and trying to prove that your faith didn’t make you weak, you chose to be there for your coworker instead. What might have happened if you put your offense aside and just loved them like Jesus loves them?”
It seems to me that a great opportunity was missed. Rather than allowing the situation to be about God an the opportunity God had placed my friend in, my friend made the situation about himself. He took offense and responded offensively instead of recognizing that he had the opportunity to show his coworker that his faith compelled him to love.
Instead – I hate to say it – he probably re-affirmed his coworker’s opinion that faith was a crutch that he apparently still needed.
We live in an age of outrage. If we’re not angry about something, our politicians and news stations are not doing their job. Sometimes I think people turn on the evening news so they can be told what they should be angry about today.
But what if we repented of our outrage and started thinking about the people who differ from us – and people who surround us – in new ways? What if, instead, we imagined that wherever we are, and whenever we find ourselves surrounded by differences of opinion, approach, faith, or belief, we recognized ourselves as a people on a mission.
What might happen if we recognized ourselves as missionaries in every situation we found ourselves in, and rather than existing in that situation for ourselves, we existed in that situation for God, who carefully and strategically placed us there in order to bear witness to his love and the transformation he is capable of bringing to human lives?
In Luke 6:27-28, Jesus says, “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
What would it look like to be a blessing to those who curse you?
This instruction is expanded upon in Romans 12:14-21. “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.On the contrary:
‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
Bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not curse. That person who rudely gestured to you in traffic? Lift them in prayer. Speak love to the person who hates you. Demonstrate Jesus to the person who insults you for loving him. And the person who kicks you when you’re down? Compliment their shoes.
Because you’re not here for you. You’re here for God, and God calls us to be here for Him by being there for them. It’s not about you.