1.15.2013

What to Do When You Are Accused of Being a Bigot

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-eXiI1NoqOX8/Tqj8Yp1m0qI/AAAAAAAAAJ4/Sz1fN7QTLJs/s1600/pharisee.gifThe recent hubbub surrounding Pastor Louie Giglio, who was asked to pray at President Obama's inauguration and then subsequently opted out when accused of being bigoted against gays, has followed a well-worn narrative arc: prominent Christian pilloried for "backwards" beliefs, Christians respond with incredulity and defensiveness, and battle lines harden.  As a Christian myself, who believes in many things that many around me would similarly consider "backwards," let me offer an alternative response: not that we dilute or disavow our understanding of God's rules for life, but that we are humbled and humbler when we are attacked.

Humility is not a natural reaction to attack, especially if we feel the attacks are unfair, incorrect, or pointed.  But a response that is purely defensive and explanatory in nature speaks of a heart that thinks that it is nowhere at fault.  But the track record of us Christians negates our ability to stand in a place of blamelessness on our own.  We who say we are "born again" (once dead in sin, now alive in Jesus) yet hold and act on some very base feelings: hatred, lust, arrogance, condescension.  There are far too many such examples for us to be able to speak from a position of moral superiority and moral authority.

At any rate, our ability to positively influence the people around us depends not as much on our being morally perfect as it does on our manifesting God's mercy and forgiveness in our lives.  If we think we are better than others and try to convince them to be like us, we are the ones getting elevated; but God is far too jealous for His glory to want our witness to the world to work like that.  Conversely, if, instead of being defensive, we just give in, and say that anyone can do anything because who are we to judge, then that doesn't glorify our God either, for it is an act of exaltation to God that we say that there are rules and that He has the authority and right to be the one to set them.

Instead, I wish we Christians were more true to what we are supposed to be about, which is honoring our God.  We honor God when we uphold that His standard is the standard, that there is such a thing as sin and that it causes judgment by and separation from God.  And we honor God when we respond to accusations by humbly confessing that indeed we have fallen short, but that we have been provided a way for redemption and forgiveness and cleansing.  

For Christians, the world desperately needs to hear the story of sin and redemption, of falling short and being forgiven.  We have heard it for ourselves, believe it applies to us, accept it for our lives, and seek to make it known to those around us.  So why is it that, when those around us bring up the subject of our sinfulness, we choose to argue about who's really being sinful, rather than take the opportunity to agree that we are all sinful and that yet there is still a way to being made whole again?



Luke 18:9-14

9 And He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and viewed others with contempt: 10 "Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 "The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: 'God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 'I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.' 13 "But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, the sinner!' 14 "I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted."
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