On social media I’ve recently learned the following about my identity as a Christian:
- If I voted for Trump, I’m not a Christian.
- If I voted for Clinton, I’m not a Christian.
- If I didn’t vote for Trump, I’m not a Christian.
- If I didn’t vote for Clinton, I’m not a Christian.
- If I am a white (by which I assume they meant Caucasian) American, I am not a Christian.
- If I believe walls for keeping people out are acceptable , or if I believe walls are unacceptable, I’m not a Christian .
The identity accusations didn’t stop with whether or not I am a Christian. Here are some other things I learned:
- If I am against unlimited immigration into the US, I am a racist, or an Islamaphobe, and I’m not prolife…
- If support unlimited immigration, I am unAmerican and unconcerned for the homeless in my city…
- If I am a white (by which I assume they meant Caucasian) American, I am a racist or a Holocaust denier.
- If I am a minority, I hate law enforcement, am responsible for the majority of crimes and drug use in the country, and lazy… I depend on the government for survival.
That’s a lot to process and doesn’t leave a lot of room for possible differences.
All these social media proclamations about identity prompted me to think about how I treat the Church (by which I mean the Church Universal, not my local congregation), and the lines I draw (sometimes out loud…sometimes only in my heart) between other believers and myself. Here are three of them:
1. The Church is not a a collection of bricks but of living stones (1 Peter 2:5).
Bricks are uniform and interchangeable. They are common and commodity.
Stones are unique, each having a different shape and strength. Building with bricks is straight process. Building with stones is an art, as each must be carefully planned, crafted, and placed to fit perfectly within the building. This idea of living stones is a beautiful image for the Church:
- We have different gifts, different passions, and different points of view. All of which strengthen us in our mission.
- Not everyone may be called to or passionate about the ministries I am, and that’s OK. In fact, that’s great! Their passion and gifts used in service to people that I would miss makes sure that we together are meeting the needs around us.
2. The different perspectives in the Church show me my blind spots.
I think I’m right about everything …my theology, my views on social issues, my parenting style, etc. But I also know I’m fallen and limited, or at least I should know this (Prov 14:12, Jer 17:9). I have to be wrong about many, if not most, things.
Living in a community of believers who are stones, not bricks, pushes me to see the blind spots in my thinking and beliefs. Whether these are areas of sin that I need to deal with or just other ways of thinking I need to explore, the diversity of viewpoints makes me a better Christ follower (Prov 27:17).Not only do these different perspectives show me the blind spots of my sins, but they also show me my blind spots on ministries and needs of others.
There are hurting people and opportunities to serve, inside and outside the Church, that I won’t notice.
Maybe I’m not sensitive to these things because I haven’t been through similar circumstances. Maybe I’m just too occupied by my own stuff to notice. But thankfully the Church isn’t just a bunch people like me, and those needs don’t go unnoticed and unmet.
3. I need to love more and judge less.
This is hard for me. I tend to think in absolutes. I can be extremely critical of others while at the same time making all kinds of excuses for myself. I need to reserve the hard judgment for my own thinking and motives, and cut all the breaks to others.
Jesus didn’t say that the world would know we are his followers by our harsh judgments toward one another (whether out of our mouths, on our social media accounts, or quietly within our hearts), but by our love for one another (John 13:55).
I hope recognizing these things put me more in line with the one identity that matters …
the identity of the One who gave his life for the Church he loves.