“You Christians Are the Worst!” he said.

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“You Christians are the worst!”

The words stopped me. It was a few years ago, and I was scrolling through the comment section of an online article focused on the latest Christian controversy at the time. Searing words back and forth and from all sides of the issue were spilled like hot tar on an already heated subject. Commenters defending their positions, trying to say just the right thing to change the opinions of complete strangers, were wielding words like weapons. It was hard to read it all. It’s always hard to watch your family fight with each other.

It was that comment from a person a Christian might call a “non-believer” which caused me to stop reading any further. “You Christians are the worst,” they had said. But this person wasn’t referencing the article. They were just reading the response to the article. They were just watching. Listening. They were just waiting to see how the Christians would respond.

I have thought about that comment many times over the last few years. I have thought about the person who made it and the many others who likely feel the same way. There have been plenty of topics for us to discuss as a family recently. From the election, to social issues, to Christian celebrities and their platforms, there have been clear lines drawn, separating our Body.

How do we show Love without also presenting the often hard Truth? How do we present the Truth in a way that brings others toward Love? “Be more loving!” many shout. “We must only share the Truth!” others cry. It’s a very fine line that we must always walk. But tip-toeing along that tight rope isn’t the most dangerous part of our walk. It is the audience that makes our conversation potentially perilous… And we can never forget them. Even when we are discussing among ourselves, we can never forget the audience.

Jesus preached in front of large crowds on numerous occasions. He shared parables and lessons and directions to the masses, but some (not all) of the hardest conversations Jesus had with people took place when no one else was listening.

One conversation Jesus had privately was with a man named Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was a short man who was a tax collector. He did many things wrong, but one day he went to see Jesus. Being a short man, he decided to climb a tree for a better view since there were often crowds surrounding Jesus. Jesus saw Zacchaeus in the tree, and fully knowing Zacchaeus’s story, chose not to make an example of him. He didn’t shout, “Hey everyone! Look at Zacchaeus! Don’t be like him! He’s a bad guy!” Jesus called Zacchaeus down out of the tree and invited Himself to dinner at Zacchaeus’s house.

We don’t even know what happened around the table that night, but we know that after a one-on-one conversation with Jesus, Zacchaeus’s life was forever changed. What an outstanding model Jesus created for us. Compassion and a private conversation with Truth led to personal transformation.

Family, are there hard conversations that need to be had by the Body of Christ? Absolutely. I’m NOT saying that we need to be silent. We need to know what we believe and why we believe it… and we need to be prepared to talk through these things. But we must remember those who are watching. We must remember that on all sides of these issues are people. Not just ideas and morals. Not just thoughts and opinions. On all sides of these big issues are people with beating hearts – some who are in our Family, and some who are trying to find out why they might want to be a part of our Family. And these major issues do not change the ultimate authority of Scripture, but our conversations can change our audience’s opinion of Jesus and His love.

We are a loving family. Created for Love, by Love, and with a redemptive loving relationship at the center of our theology. Let’s remember what Jesus modeled. One-on-one conversation is where hearts can be heard and where convictions can meet compassion. Let’s love each other well. Let’s never forget that the world is watching.

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