There is a lot of talk these days about the Church, good and bad. I fear, since the talk seems to be mostly bad, that we have lost sight of what the Church really is, who we are– we who make up the body of Christ. So, for a-yet-to-be-determined number of posts, I’ll be discussing ways the Bible describes the Church and what that means to us. I’ll also be ending each post with a guide for prayer, so we can join together in calling upon God to make us who he meant for us to be.
I’m not a fan of 3-D movies. They cost way too much, they often give me headaches, the extra dimension doesn’t add much to the movie, and half the time the glasses I get are broken or don’t fit right.
I like the people on my screens– big, small, PC, Apple– to be two-dimensional. And not just because of my distaste for Hollywood’s version of 3-D. If the people on my screens are just pixels, I don’t have to treat them like they’re as real as the people I see off-screen. I like it that way. It enables me to idolize my favorite singers, demonize my least favorite celebrities, judge those I don’t even know, and make fun of just about everyone.
What I forget is that all of those people (or the actors who portray them) are just as human as I am (unless they’re, you know, animated). As digital communication increases, I think we are more tempted to view others– both on and off-screen– as little bit less “us” than we are. We forget that they have problems, dreams, losses, victories, personalities, families, and fears– just like we do.
So when other people screw up, we hardly ever give them the grace we would give ourselves in the same situation. We talk about their recklessness, not the experiences and circumstances that have brought them to this point. I’m not saying we should excuse people who do bad things, but I do believe we can take a moment to extend faith and love toward our digital neighbors across the globe and our physical neighbors down the street.
Jesus called this the second greatest commandment– loving others as you love yourself (Matthew 22:37-39). I know I make mistakes. I know I’m a hypocrite, a poser, a slacker, a mess. But when I fail or fall or flail about, I don’t want other people laughing at me, looking down at me, or lathering me with more shame. At those times, I need grace, love, patience, empathy, wisdom, friendship, intercession. When I’m at the worst of my humanity, I need the best of your humanity. I need to see Christ in you. And it works both ways. When you’re down, you need me to help you up, to show you the love that Jesus exemplified when he brought the best of God to the lowest of humanity.
Don’t just take my word for it. Philippians 2:5-8 says:
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.
Jesus didn’t come to earth and die on the cross for two-dimensional screen people. He did what he did for the whole person– for everything every person is. He saw people not as entertainment, tools, or even companions; he saw them as beautiful, complex creations of his Father who were worth dying for. And that’s how he sees us… and our politicians and our reality show contestants and the unknown, exploited workers in other countries who make our stuff.
Let’s pray to see others as God sees them and to treat them accordingly.
Most Gracious Father, this song is the cry of our hearts today: “Give me Your eyes so I can see/ Everything that I keep missing/ Give me Your love for humanity/ Give me Your arms for the brokenhearted/ The ones that are far beyond my reach/ Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten/ Give me Your eyes so I can see.”
We truly want to see people as you see them– in the Church and outside the Church. Help us to recognize the real stories taking place in the lives of others. And even if we don’t know their full stories, help us to respond with grace and love before we respond with criticism and sarcasm. Let this never be an excuse to ignore evil, but let it be an opportunity to show love in new ways and to new people.
When the temptation comes for us to judge or run or slander, hold up our own imperfect humanity with the self-control provided by your Spirit. And when all others turn their backs on someone sinking in failure, let your people be the ones to stick by their side. Remind us of our own humanity and the beauty of the grace that you used to cover us.
Thank you for sending Jesus to earth as one of us, for lowering him to our level so he could raise us up to his. We stand in awe of the fact that he died for even us– broken, troubled, rebellious, impure. We praise him– for when the very worst of humanity was unleashed on him, he unleashed the very best on humanity. Hallelujah.
COMMENT: When has someone shown you or someone you know grace and love in the midst of their weakness?
You can read more from the We Are Your Church series here.
If you liked this post, you might also enjoy 4 Things I Learned from the 2012 Olympics, Re:Named (Barnabas),One Reason I’ll Stay with the Church For Good, Love is a Battlefield, and Lessons for a Punk.