I had a conversation the other day with a lady at the park who said that Christians are old school and out of touch with reality. It made for an interesting conversation that ultimately led us to the topic of love.
She questioned how I could say I freely love people when the Bible is so full of restrictions, rules and regulations.
I questioned why she thinks it isn’t loving to have standards, to live with a high moral compass, and to recognize the need for tough love from time-to-time.
She questioned how Jesus is exemplary of love – a guy who easily and often offended people.
I asked her how someone dying for her life isn’t the very epitome of love.
Back and forth we chatted (in a friendly manner) about faith, culture, and the tricky mix these intersections are. Our conversation ended with her saying, “I just want everyone to like me and I will try to like everybody in return. Wouldn’t you say that’s how Jesus would have lived in today’s culture?”
Ah yes, there it is.
The death grip.
The natural human desire for man’s approval.
The enemy keeps us so focused on a need for the approval of man that we end up needing that approval more than we need His.
It’s not easy, is it?
It’s not easy to stand up for what is deemed outdated and irrelevant.
It’s not comfortable to stare pop culture in the face and say, “I can’t go along with this.”
It’s not easy to lend your voice to another perspective and trust that people won’t call you crazy, or a loser, or hail you “out to lunch.”
But we must not forget that this is indeed what we are called to do.
Alienation will happen and we mustn’t lose heart.
We must take courage for He has overcome the world.
We must be obedient knowing that it’s HIS job to convict and our job to be faithful.
To be honest, everything in me wanted to avoid that conversation. Who wants to go to the park and cause someone to be upset? By nature I am a people pleaser and I could see that she was struggling with God via me. I would have MUCH preferred to keep the conversation light and breezy – ya know, talk about the cuteness of her kids n’ all. But I knew I had to be obedient to the racing of my heart. I knew God was asking me to dig deeper. And while she was slightly annoyed with my perspective on matters of faith, I could see all over her face that she was wrestling with so much more than our one-time conversation.
Here’s the cool part.
When we follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit and stand up for Christ’s example of love, we create opportunity for Christ to move in supernatural ways.
That girl ran up to me later – right as I was climbing into my vehicle – and said, “I can’t stop thinking about our conversation. You are the first Christian I have ever talked to that has not gotten defensive when I questioned why you believe what you believe. I also can’t stop wondering why you would say you love me when you don’t even know me? And how can you say Jesus loves me when He can’t even imagine the kind of person I am on the inside?”
All I could do was get of my vehicle and hug her. As I hugged her, she cried. As she cried, I cried. As we cried hard together, I could feel her guarded walls come crashing down… because that’s what He does.
Loving the way Christ calls us to love can be hard.
Caring the way Christ calls us to care can be stressful.
Listening the way Christ calls us to listen can be scary.
Following the promptings of the Holy Spirit can be downright impossible.
But if we’re willing to do it, and when we do it, He shows up!
”Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” Galatians 1:10