I have three very short stories to share with you today, and then I’ll tie them all together…
I have a new author I’m working with who narrates her story from 3 different perspectives. She is the family physician, the wife and the mother. And each of these individuals has a unique and valid perspective on the story being told, none of which were in agreement.
In another setting, I found myself sharing my thoughts earlier in this week with someone I care deeply about. I began my impassioned words of advice with “As your friend, as someone who relies on you as a business resource, and as the woman who loves you…” In that instance, all three perspectives were perfectly aligned.
In this same period of time, I became aware of a new book called “The Christian Atheist.” Its subtitle caught my eye. “Believing in God, but Living as if He Doesn’t Exist.” Aren’t we all guilty of that at different times and in varying degrees?
These three different situations juxtaposed to present a question for us this month.
We each wear many hats throughout the day. We may be parents, employees, siblings, children, writers, publishers, gardeners, grandparents, bosses, job seekers, students, poets, and many other things. We’re also Christians.
Yet how often do these various perspectives align themselves?
Oftentimes, we find ourselves to be struggling Christians living in a secular world, trying to find the balance between spreading the gospel as commanded in Matthew 27, and trying to keep others in line, which isn’t our place or right to do.
Lean too much one way, and we risk coming across as ignorant, intolerant and judgmental. Or worse yet, when non-believers discover our failings, we’re hypocritical bigots, offering them an excuse to condemn everyone who shares our beliefs with the same label. “Hypocrite!”
Lean too much other way, and we’re branded by our own brothers and sisters in Christ as being too tolerant or liberal, progressives who are ruining the underpinnings of the church and shaking the very foundation of Christianity.
The friction between the many hats that we wear can quickly become overwhelming.
How do we stand up for what we believe in at the same time as being loving and accepting?
Case in point…
Is Bruce Jenner a hero? I’ll be frank. Not in my eyes.
A hero, to me, is someone who puts the needs of others before themselves; who sacrifices themselves for the betterment or protection of someone else. Bruce has not done that…
But a hero can also be someone like Rosa Parks, who took a stand that was purely self-focused at the time (she was tired and old and wanted to sit down on that bus). Yet her actions drew such public attention and sparked such outrage and discourse that a nation was changed.
If that’s your definition of a hero, whether you like the change that resulted or not, Bruce, now Caitlyn, has definitely done that. For those who see that change as a positive thing, it’s natural that they would consider her a hero.
What I see instead is someone who has made some extremely difficult choices, who is living with the consequences (both positive and negative) of those choices, and who deserves compassion, just like everyone else in this world. He (now she) is a child of God, regardless of the choices that have been made up until this point. Thankfully, no one is ever a lost cause.
The good shepherd will leave his entire flock to search for the one who is lost. He doesn’t go stomping out into the field searching angrily, disgruntled at having to leave a warm fire and the safety of his paddock for a silly sheep. He goes willingly, sacrificing his own safety and comfort to seek the one who is lost. At one point in time, that was you. And it was also me.
I believe that part of our role as Christians is to learn how to turn those many hats we wear into one. A hat that brings glory to God and compassion to those around us.
That doesn’t mean that we won’t have conflicting emotions. We’re only human…
But the more that we wear that hat of “Believer,” the more all of the other perspectives come in line and make sense. When we view the world through God’s eyes, instead of our own, everything becomes that much clearer. With the Holy Spirit guiding us, we learn when to speak and with what words, and when to remain silent.
Yes, there is right and wrong. But our God is the God of Truth. He is the Judge, not us. We are to do our best to become like his Son, not like God. Our role model is the shepherd, who sacrificed his comfort, his peace and his very self for us. How can we do any less for those around us after the grace we have received from him?
I often want to “join in the fray” on Facebook as friends debate liberal and conservative topics. It seems that Christianity, and our very faith, is on trial and facing certain condemnation.
Yet I’m mindful of Jesus in the court of Pontius Pilate. He let his actions speak for him. His past, his history, and all that he had *done* up until that point. He didn’t defend his beliefs or what he’d done. He simply stood witness to the lives he had changed. To our lives…
As we figure out what hat we’re going to wear today, let’s stand witness to what He has done for us in the lives we lead and the writing that we do.