To all my FB friends: I screwed up and I need to apologize. This is long, but please hear me out.
In a virtual world swirling with opinions and fake news, things can get chaotic. Noisy. Confusing. Stressful. I have tried (and sometimes failed) to be a voice of love in the midst of it.
Not that it’s wrong to share your opinions. I often admire those who do, seemingly without a care as to what others think and how others may disagree. Sometimes I wish I was more like you. I generally read your opinions and feel that I’ve gotten to know you a bit better because of what you shared. More often than not, we do not share the same opinion. Your opinion doesn’t change mine, and I’m sure mine hasn’t changed yours, either. But that has never changed my love for you.
Over the last year and a half, I’ve been realizing I’ve lived much of my life caring too much about people’s opinions of me. I am transitioning to a “new me” that is trying to give less influence to the opinion of others. The road to figuring out what that looks like is pretty bumpy. In an effort to throw off my sometimes-irrational fear of what people may think of me, a few weeks ago I impulsively hit “share” and posted an article on Facebook about a hot-button issue. The moment I posted it, my heart sank when I realized it could be extremely offensive to specific people I know. I considered deleting it immediately, but in an effort to not bow to “fear of man”, I let it be; but I hoped it would not be seen by the friends that came to mind. (I have since deleted the post, so don’t bother looking for it.)
The article was about an issue that is polarizing and deeply personal to some of my friends. And sure enough, the friends I was most concerned about seeing it were some of the first to see it and comment. It angered and hurt them not only because it was polarizing, but also because I was a Christian sharing it. I surprised them by showing I was yet another “finger-pointing, condemning Christian”. They’d thought I was different.
Throughout history, Christians have long been seen as self-appointed judges of humanity and defenders of truth at all costs. Yet this is not how Jesus was perceived when he was here. It was only the extremely religious people who hated him. Everyone else was drawn to him. Everyone else felt so loved by him. His love took on such a practical nature: he healed their physical ailments; he set them free from tormenting spirits; he raised them from the dead; he defended them from religious leaders about to stone them; he grieved for them and with them; he shared meals with them; he poured his heart and time into relationships with his disciples and friends.
Sometimes, we Christians have a way of expecting the whole world to value the same things we do – even though His kingdom is not of this world. Our world view is unique.
When I shared this post on Facebook, I was not doing it out of love or even trying to change someone’s mind. I shared it in an attempt to care less about what people thought of me. My heart was good, but my priorities were off. There’s “fear of man” and then there’s caring about people. It’s not wrong to care about how your actions will make people feel, especially in the name of Christ. I did not mention Christianity at all when I posted this, but sometimes I forget that people know I’m a Christian and they watch me. They watch to see if all this is “real” and something they want to buy into, or not. Most Christians make them feel like – Nope. I don’t want a religion that looks like that. And I get it. We can be a pretty self-righteous bunch.
Yesterday, I ran into one of the friends in real life that I’d angered so much by what I posted. She unfriended me after that post. This friend is not a Christian, and she has been hurt and angered by many Christians over the years. I just added fuel to that fire. I apologized to her in person for the way my post had hurt and offended her. She was gracious, but I could see the deep emotions underneath it all. She said she was accustomed to Christians believing and behaving this way, and it’s part of what made her walk away from Christianity years ago. Seeing her hurt, her offense, the personal effect that my post had on her, I was heartbroken. When I did finally “call out the gold” in her and told her how she was a wonderful person, it was too little, too late. My personal little mission to care less about people’s opinions had resulted in at least one casualty.
I live to see people know how loved they are by God. But in His name – because I represent Him – I had made someone feel unfairly judged and condemned. Again. Another day, another judge-y Christian.
And then I knew. I please God first, and I love people well. It does not have to be one or the other. The Church throughout the centuries has too often placed ourselves in the position of Judge and Jury. I don’t know why we think we are qualified. We’re not. What we can do is love people well. Love people like Jesus loved them. He healed the sick, raised the dead, cast out demons, forgave sins, shared meals, and built relationships. He spoke truth, but often in parables. He told stories where you had to dig for truth. It was only with the extremely religious folk that he pulled out all the stops and brutally laid it all out. With everyone else, he was LOVE in action. Love with skin on.
When I am preaching to fellow believers in church, I will not hold back on speaking the truth in love. When I am with a friend who has invited me to speak into their life, I will not hold back. But when my audience is a wide variety of people, most of whom are not believers and who disagree with me on hot-button issues, my first priority from now on will be to communicate the unconditional LOVE of Christ. My first priority will be to look for and call out the gold in them – not call out the ways in which I disagree with them or feel they are wrong.
The world has too many judges. What it needs is more Jesus.
For those who are reading this and are concerned that my theology is changing, that’s not what this is about. What this is about is that people come first. Everyone needs more love in their life. More REAL, agape love. Not opinions or noise or confusion or judgement. More LOVE.
Though I feel devastated about what happened, I cannot go back. I can only resolve to let this be a lesson I learn for the future. I will love better and love harder and love more until people think of me as “Courtney Love” (not THAT Courtney Love, lol!).
Friend, if you’ve read this whole thing, thank you. I want to apologize if I have hurt you or made you feel sick in the pit of your stomach or made you feel judged or condemned. I especially apologize because I am a follower of Jesus Christ and He would not have made you feel that way. I am misrepresenting Him if that’s the emotion I am leaving you with. I want to leave you feeling loved and better about your value and worth, not worse.
Please know that I LOVE YOU even if we disagree on some stuff. There’s some stuff I’m right about and some stuff I’m wrong about, too. I screw up a lot and misrepresent Jesus sometimes. Please don’t hold it against HIM. He is perfect. I am very much not. But I LOVE YOU with my whole imperfectly flawed heart because you are WORTHY of love.
You are special and amazing and one-of-a-kind.
I love you.