“God loves human beings. God loves the world. Not an ideal human, but human beings as they are; not an ideal world, but the real world. What we find repulsive in their opposition to God, what we shrink back from with pain and hostility... this is for God the ground of unfathomable love.” - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Today something happened in my home town that has taken me by surprise. A man with my melanin stood up in a coffee shop I have often been in and pulled out a gun, yelled vulgar things, and heiled Hitler*.
I don't know who it was, but one think I can assume. He probably has been to church more than the people that were in that shop.
This shop is known as a safe haven in my community for offering a safe place for those who don't fit into the culture of Christendom that dominates Auburn, Alabama. Most other coffee shops are full of Bible Studies and Scripture on the walls. And I'm not against either of those things. In fact I have been a part of those things being that way. But in doing so a lot of people have felt unloved.
As I read the report of what happened tonight I began to weep. And I did so because somehow this city that is full of churches has come to look less like Jesus and more like Trump.
I have been reading through the Gospels again with the start of the new year, and something always sticks out to me when I do this. Jesus had a way of making people on the margins love Him. They planed parties around when He'd be in town. They flocked to Him. And when He was around them He spoke truth. Hard truths. He told them who He was. He spoke of sin. He spoke of Hell, more than anyone else in all of Holy write. But yet, somehow these people knew that Jesus loved them. And even if they didn't like what He was saying, they knew the person speaking loved them. And I have to wonder how many people can say that of us these days.
John 1 tells us that Jesus came full of 'Grace and Truth'. And yet somehow in the church these days we have opted for one or the other. We have churches full of grace and no truth for a mile. We also have churches full of truth and pews full of assholes. Neither of these look like Jesus.
To the church in Corinth St Paul wrote, "All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
He connected the way in which Jesus acted towards us as the way in which we should act towards others. And Jesus was full of both Grace and Truth. And often I feel the pull to be one and not the other.
In light of a Nazi in my home town I feel that we need more truth. We need people who frequent the church to hear of the love and grace of Abba through the work of Christ and the power of the Spirit. And to those who feel the need to avoid coffee shops with Bible verses we need more Grace.We need people who frequent the church to hear of the love and grace of Abba through the work of Christ and the power of the Spirit.
And I know that I used the same sentence for what each side needs. Because each side needs the gospel. Each person we meet need to come across more Christian that actually look like the Christ who's name they bear.
We have, as the Church in America, become so scared of culture that we have allowed for anyone who wants the same person in office to be part of us. God Forgive Us.
So I ask each of you to be like Jesus. Be full of Grace and Truth to each person you meet this week. The person who thinks like you. The person who thinks differently. The person who who votes like you, and the one who voted for the other candidate. The person who thinks like you, and the person who thinks on the other side of the spectrum. The person who thinks that marriage is what God said it is, and the person who thinks that God shouldn't get a vote since He was single when He was down here. The person who you call an ally, and the person you call an enemy. The person you think deserves grace, and the one you know doesn't. Because in the end, none of us deserve grace.