strangely, though, something is happening inside me. i no longer view a difference of opinion as an opportunity or an opening or a challenge. i view it as a bane, a drain of emotion and energy, a winner-less non-starter. yet i know i can't withdraw from society, and i can't in good faith ignore those who would say (or do) things with which i disagree. i remember telling churches i served that the call is for us not to be peacekeepers but peacemakers, and sometimes making peace is hard work. it's just that ten years in the ministry, along with the opinion-fueled pugilism that is modern social media, have completely drained me of my will to fight, to debate, to attempt to convince.
even still, every time i witness someone acting or speaking or posting in a way which to me evinces a worldview based in hate rather than love, there is still this spark ignited within me, this sort of righteous anger (made righteous not by how i am, but by the fact that love is always in the right), which seeks to, in the words of steve brown, 'speak truth to power'. with each passing day, i become more convinced that i am complicit in all the 'wrongness' i see, so long as i keep quiet in its face.
and so here i have a bit of a conundrum. on the one hand, i'm tired of fighting. i'm tired of trying to convince people that love and grace can really do what Jesus said they can do, and i'm tired of trying to explain why i believe this way or that, or vote this way or that, as if somehow orthodoxy is affirmed or denied in the voting box or in the posts i choose to like on facebook.
on the other hand, i'm also tired of seeing people hate other people in Jesus' name; i'm tired of watching the church become so entrenched in the political process that we think Jesus cares about who wins the presidency as much as we do; i'm tired of being told that Christians should support this war over there, engage in this other sort of war here at home, and support the sanctity of life in the womb, but not the sanctity of life on the gaza strip.
and then it hit me. i'm not tired of trying to convince, i'm tired of trying to convince the wrong people.
instead of trying to convince the christian friend on facebook that Jesus doesn't hate right-handed people, i should instead spend my energy telling right-handed people that Jesus doesn't hate them. instead of fighting with old college buddies about whether or not the poor in america are to blame for their own poverty, i should be talking to, going to the poor, and telling them that Jesus knows their name, and doesn't blame them for anything.
i'm not called to debate the hater; i'm called to love the hated.
i'm not called to convince the attacker; i'm called to protect the attacked.
i'm not called to eradicate marginalization; i'm called to stand with the marginalized.
i'm not called to win (anything); i'm called to lose (everything).
i'm not called to be right; i'm called to love, even when the world says it's wrong.
this is not the beginning of an agenda for me. i don't hope to convince you that this is how you should view life. the Holy Spirit is well able to guide you and direct you, to show you the path in which you should go. if anything, i would hope, as you read this, that you might feel emboldened to follow through on the decision you've already made to love, even when those around you would rather fight; to show mercy, when the world tells you that vengeance is the answer; to gather in even when society, or the church, or even your friends, tell you that casting out is the only way to salvation.
may we all feel brave and bold and battle-ready, and may we all realize that the fight worth fighting is the fight to love.
no matter what...