As a follower of Jesus, this really is my mantra. Love one another. This is how you will be known to be My [Jesus] disciples, if you have love one for another.
When i spend a decent amount of time online challenging people about their beliefs and actions, this often comes to mind. After all the church has a pretty bad history of typically being known more for what we are against than what we are for and so i don’t want to add to that. Especially when we are for such great stuff. Loving God, loving people, looking after the least of these, caring for widows and orphans, welcoming the marginalised, being pro all aspects of life, sharing what we have with the stranger, forgiving our enemies and showering them with love.
So when i find myself writing a post that is a little more tongue in cheek and contains the phrase ‘stupid people’ a whole lot, i think about it a lot. When i engage in yet another online dispute about racism or privilege or why it is never cool to make jokes using the word ‘rape’ or reducing it to something describing a much lesser thing that went wrong in your day, i check myself. Am i spending as much time and more championing things which bring people together, which build community, which encourage people to get involved with the poor and marginalised. Don’t get caught up in the mud flinging.
i saw this cartoon today and i really liked it:
i think it is the patience of Jesus here that i love the most. No matter how many times i don’t ‘get’ it, Jesus takes time with me helping me to see the error of my ways, bringing me lovingly back to ‘You will be known by the love you have…’
But then i am also reminded of the time Jesus goes completely off at the Pharisees in Matthew 23.
i love the trailer to His rant, found in verse 3:
So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.
That seems to say it all, right. “Jesus, i think you covered it all right there. Let’s go get lunch.” But He doesn’t.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.
“Blind Fools”… “Blind Guides”… “Hypocrites”… “Whitewashed tombs”… “Snakes. Brood of vipers.”
If this was a modern day setting you can imagine Jesus dropping the mic and walking off stage. Oh, and just a reminder that these are the religious leaders of the day – so the pastors and reverends and very reverends and bishops etc.
And this is not an isolated event. When a woman is brought in front of Him to be stoned, Jesus tosses it back at them – “Go for it. Whichever of you has not sinned, you throw the first rock.” Everyone leaves.
When His disciples are fighting amongst themselves about who is greatest or who will rule alongside Him on His throne one day He calls them out in front of the group and embarrasses them.
At one point He gives a teaching so controversial or difficult to obey that everyone except for the close disciples leaves and stops following Him.
FIND THE BALANCE
Jesus saved His strongest words for those who followed Him, and while i am clearly not Jesus, i feel like i do that pretty well too. It is typically the christians getting pissed off with me on Facebook [which feels great when it’s issues of poverty and race and injustice, but less great when it’s about football salaries and movie pirating and content of tv shows although i tend to stay more out of most of those these days] and getting defensive and more.
And i’m okay with that. i hope people that don’t follow Jesus feel loved by me. i hope they feel safe. i hope i am someone they will call when their faeces has been furiously flung into a nearby fan. Oh, i also admire alliteration, apparently. i hope they expect that i will answer and come rushing.
i don’t see myself as ‘The Internet Police’ just as Jesus probably didn’t see Himself as ‘The Temple Police’… but when He saw people abusing their authority He went off… when He saw people practising extortion in a place meant for prayer He went a little ballistic… when He saw someone responding to a serious challenge and call to self-reflection on Facebook with a cheap and trite metaphorical saying that even the guy who came up with it probably didn’t understand then He went off… oh wait, that one was not Him, that was me. But i like to think He would have smiled and possibly even liked my comeback that involved the phrase “Christmas cracker inserts”.
Or not. He may not have. That might have been one time when i got it wrong. i will keep reflecting on where, what and how i engage. But i won’t keep quiet when it feels like words are needed. And in the background, all the time, i will be repeating my mantra over and over to myself.