I’ve noticed a trend recently that genuinely breaks my heart. It hits me when I read quotes like this one from a Baptist pastor in California in reference to the attack in Orlando, “Hey, are you sad that 50 pedophiles were killed today? No…I think that’s great…The tragedy is that more of them didn’t die.” This is a preacher, a man called to love and serve God and his congregation, calling for a mass killing of human beings. The Orlando attacks aren’t even the most recent. It seems like there’s a new story every day about someone who has been hurt out of fear and hate. We just keep hurting each other for stupid reasons: sexual orientation, religion, skin color, nationality…the list never ends. And with every new terrible event, there is a bombardment of hate speech spewed all over social media. People react out of fear, and fear causes us to behave appallingly.
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst.” 1 Timothy 1:15
Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst; me, Rachel Claire Cockrell. I am the worst sinner. I am worse than all of you. I talk about this verse a lot, but that’s because I think it is so crucial for Christians to embrace.
I need Christ in my life more than anyone else. There is not a single homosexual, Muslim, alcoholic, grocery clerk, adulterer, republican, transgender person, cheater, teacher, liar, bigot, immigrant, racist, democrat, thief, prostitute, or next door neighbor who is worse than I am. I can do nothing but embrace my weaknesses because they serve only to magnify Christ’s power and grace.
I am no better than anyone else. The only significant difference in me is that I have found the Savior. I am washed by the blood and covered in his grace (cue the gospel music). I am clean; not because of anything I have ever done, but because I have accepted the sacrifice that Jesus made on my behalf. My only goal should be sharing that knowledge with others. Our goal as Christians should never be to exclude, condemn, or judge those who do not have Christ in their lives. On the contrary, we should love those people. We, more than anyone else, understand how deceptive the enemy is.
When we stop comparing ourselves to everyone else in an attempt to make us feel like we are better, then think about what we, as Christians, could do for Christ! Think about how many more people would feel the love of Christ. We forget that this is what he was known for. He wasn’t known for his condemnation. He was known for love.
Loving others is how the world will identify us as Christ followers, and unfortunately there are too many Christians out there who spread nothing but hate. We have to stop assuming that we know what God is thinking, that’s just arrogance and pride, and we are called to be humble. We have to stop assuming that we are here to tell everyone what they are doing wrong. I have to stop assuming that I am a better Christian or a better person than anyone else.
To the LGBT community, to the followers of other religions, to the person who feels like a failure, to the next door neighbor who feels judged, I apologize on behalf of all self-proclaimed Christians for the way we have treated you. Please do not assume that we follow a God who condemns the way that we have. God is love. Period. Jesus loves you for who you are right now. We would have you believe that he doesn’t. We would have you believe that Jesus only loves you when you’ve changed, when you look just like we expect you to. This is a lie. Jesus loves you exactly as you are right at this moment. I am sorry at how often we forget that. We assume that we have to tell you all about how the Bible says whatever you’re doing is a sin, but the truth is we should be loving you and showing you how much Jesus loves you.
I have no right to tell anyone else how to live their lives. All I can do is tell you what a difference Jesus has made in my life. All I can tell you is how much more fulfilling it is to worship and follow a Savior who sacrificed his life for me, because he desired a relationship with me that much. That is our calling as Christians, to spread the gospel and to share the love of Christ. We are to hold other Christians accountable in love (which is key…anything not done in love is useless), but we cannot judge those who do not have Christ.
Love never fails. It didn’t fail 2000 years ago on a cross when a man who was far from ordinary because he was fully God and fully man decided he loved me enough to die so that I could have a relationship with him. Love succeeded when he chose to take me as I am. Love succeeded when he decided that I was worth his sacrifice, even though I am the worst of all sinners. That is our focus. We have to remember that we need Jesus’ love and sacrifice just as much as anyone else. We need to remember that Jesus loved the prostitute, the adulterer, and the tax collector exactly as they were, with no strings attached. Jesus said it himself in John chapter 13, “A new command I give you. Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” If we spew hate, fear, and judgement, then we look nothing like Christ.
Show everyone who Christ really is. He is love. He is forgiveness. He is truth. And thank goodness he separates the sinner from the sin, or I would be more condemned than anyone else. I deserve Christ’s love less than anyone, and yet I have it. How could I not share it?
So, how do we change the current culture in our country? What is the solution to the division and the hate and the ridiculousness?
We. Have. To. Love.
We have to love the way Christ loved. We assume that in order to love we have to agree. That’s not true! Christ didn’t agree with the adulterous ways of the Samaritan woman at the well, but he still treated her with love and respect. We will never reach the masses for Christ; we will never be able to convince anyone that there is anything worthwhile about Jesus until we learn to love the way he did.
I don’t care about what the rest of the world does. But Christians, I’m calling you out. Stop spewing hate. Try for some empathy. Learn how to love. Show the world who Christ really is.