On Mother’s Day, my family got together on a limited basis, just the siblings and spouses. My brother and I like to debate. It’s done in good fun, usually, but sometimes it can become heated. Let’s just say we both have strong opinions! He said some things that I felt very strongly about on Sunday, and I felt the need to stand up for Jesus and how He loves us unconditionally. The discussion quickly heated up as our voices got louder and louder. He said his peace, I said mine, and we agreed to disagree. When I laid in bed that night, however, I went over the conversation in my head, and I was instantly convicted that I could have done better. I wished I hadn’t raised my voice. I thought of questions I could have calmly asked him rather than the opinions that I so passionately shared. And believe me, the irony was not lost on me that I was raising my voice about how much Jesus loves us! REALLY! I felt God speak into my heart the simple words:
Jesus is love, grace, humility, mercy, kindness. We can all agree on that. But let’s face it, there are lots of things about Jesus and our faith that we don’t agree on; and we have been debating these differences since Christ rose from the dead. That’s why we have so many different denominations out there in the church. And unfortunately, arguing has become almost like a sport on social media. Discussions that used to be contained to the board room or our households are now online for everyone to see, and they have become nasty at times. It seems we have lost the ability to “agree to disagree.” Should we stand up for what we believe? Absolutely! I’m not saying that we should hide our faith or what we believe. Not for a minute. The how is what I believe we need to look at. At least I do. The truth of the matter is we may start out arguing over an idea, but then emotion gets in the way. And before we know it, it’s the emotion behind the idea that is causing the conflict, not the idea itself. When we are filled with the love of Jesus, that is what will naturally flow out of us. When we are filled with the peace of Jesus, we are better equipped to be at peace with others. When we are filled with the grace of Jesus, that grace is easier to pass on to others.
“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had” Philippians 2:4-5 (NLT)
Jesus paid close attention to those he encountered. He put their needs above his own. He met them where they were. He showered them with love. As I reflect on my own conversation, I think about how much stronger my argument could have been if I had focused on demonstrating and being the love of Jesus rather than arguing about it. The old saying, “Actions speak louder than words,” is so true, my friend. We can debate all day long about the Bible and what we believe, or we can go out into the world and do what Jesus would be doing: loving, helping, serving, caring for others, listening, ministering. As for me, the next time I have the opportunity to share my passion and my beliefs, I pray I take the time to meet the person I’m speaking with where they are at, to listen more, especially to their heart, and talk less. And most of all, I hope I choose to focus more on being Jesus rather than arguing about him. Hugs and, love, Jill