Here's a post from my new favorite blog, Stuff Christians Like. Funny, thought provoking, inspiring. I'm hooked.
I've told you before about my friend that injured his knee goofing
around at a youth group retreat. He was holding on to the side mirror
of the youth group leader's pick up truck, sliding along on the New
Hampshire snow when my leader brushed him off against a tree as a joke.
He fell and got hit by the pickup truck with all our luggage in it.
Although his injury was eventually minor, I will never forget that
first moment when he was on the ground screaming and cursing in pain.
One of the youth leaders leaned over him and said, "Sean, language!"
is my favorite example when it comes to showing how we Christians
sometimes hone in on the issue instead of the individual. For that
youth leader, the idea of Sean swearing was more important than the
pain he was physically in. The person did not matter as much as the
I think we all know the phrase, "love the sinner, hate
the sin," but I think one that is just as important is, "love the
person, not the issue." I think so often we fail at that one.
was reminded of that yesterday when I posted about a church using the
word "ballsy" in a billboard. Some of the online response to that
billboard was negative. My site was fine, but some other sites had
long, heated debates about the use of that word. The biggest point
made, which someone also commented about on this blog, was that the
billboard was located where lots of kids could see it.
I don't want my kids saying the word "ballsy." I think it's kind of
crass and not something a kid should say. (But I wouldn't want them
using some words I use, like "sucktacular," so I can't pretend I get
this one right.) I think the person that commented on my site made some
good points. I think though that arguing sometimes about words like
ballsy or other issues, can make us forget the people that are
involved. The issue can sometimes cloud up our vision and we forget to
love the person first, which is ultimately what Christ called us to do.
(Love God, love others, love yourself. Matthew 22: 36-40)
That's why I am inventing the "Love First" machine.
will be pretty simple. I imagine it looking like that machine in the
Tom Hanks movie, Big. (I love that movie. "Down down baby, down by the
roller coaster, sweet sweet baby sweet sweet I love you so , jimmy
jimmy coco puff jimmy jimmy rye…") You put a quarter in and then you
type out your issue. For example, you might type, "My issue is that a
church used the word 'ballsy' in a billboard and I am really angry that
children are going to see it."
The machine would whirl and hiss and then a slip of paper would pop out. It would read:
Four hours away from this billboard in Charlotte, is Atlanta, one of,
if not the, worst cities in America for child sex trafficking.
Volunteer there and save lives. Love first."
you'd take your piece of paper and think, "Wow, I had no idea Atlanta
was like that. Protesting the word 'ballsy' is going to have to wait. I
have some slaves to free."
Now I agree, that's an extreme
example and one that is maybe far fetched. The idea of relating concern
over vulgarity to slave trading is a huge leap. Fair enough, let me use
a more reasonable example and a confession from my own life.
I was unkind to a widow.
a widow in our neighborhood, in her 50s, that lets her dog use the
bathroom in our yard. My two young kids were unable to play in parts of
the yard because of her dog. So I wrote her a note. And then a second
note. And then a third note. These were not loving notes. These were
not Christ-like. Was I wrong? I don't think so. What she was doing,
opening the door and letting her dog just run out for five minutes as
if what he was doing was just magically disappearing and not in fact
being put in someone's yard, is not cool. But I promise I could have
loved her better. I could have done a much better job showing her God's
love. Here is what I think the "Love First" machine would have told me
to do on that slip of paper:
"Dog issues? Go to her house
and volunteer to walk the dog when she gets home from work. Your
children will love it and it's a great way to see if you could handle
one of your own. That dog was her husband's, who is no longer alive.
She is overwhelmed by taking care of it and will welcome your
compassion, which will show her God's face."
recommending we stop caring about issues. I think we need to,
passionately so. And if getting upset about swearing is your thing,
that's cool with me. There are certainly lots of verses that deal with
that in the Bible and I think you have every right to protect the
content people push on your kids. I respect that you are loving your
children by protecting them from filth. I think that is beautiful.
That's not what I am arguing against. In fact, there is nothing I am
against in this post. There is however something I am for, and that's
more love. And not just more love, but love first. I have a really
simple faith and when Jesus says something is the greatest and the
second greatest commandment, I'll do whatever it takes to live that
out. Even if it means building a "Love First" machine.