I was in a social setting recently where I saw a lot of people that I haven’t seen in many, many years. There was a strange twist to this scenario because of social media–we all knew enough random details of each others’ lives to feel confident starting a conversation, but Facebook familiarity is no substitute for the comfort you have after years of quality time. There were a handful of people at this event that have remained good friends of mine as time has passed. We KNOW each other–we know that there is more depth, more fun, more complication in our lives than the highlights on Instagram and Facebook. But most everyone else used social media as their stereotype gauge, which if we’re honest, is something that we all do. We can’t help it! And I have a feeling that my stereotype for the night was: Conservative, Fanatical Bible Thumper. I came home and told my husband about some of my disappointing encounters and he said, “Well honey, you do have some divisive opinions!” I said, “So do you!” To which he replied, “Yeah, but I don’t share like you and also I don’t care what most people think.”
It is very easy to hide behind a computer screen and say what you want, think or feel. It is not so easy when you realize that your views are counter-cultural and oftentimes even offensive. As I get older, it becomes more and more difficult to be a conservative Christian in the world. I know that my life would be much easier if I would just acquiesce to social trends and religious relativism. I wouldn’t have to bite my tongue, be concerned about how I come across in mixed crowds, pull my girls out of Kids’ Yoga at the gym because I don’t feel like explaining why we don’t believe in Chakras and energy flow. In these awkward moments, it would be much simpler to deny what I believe and who I am for the sake of being liked a little more.
But I simply can’t abandon my beliefs. And it’s not because I’m pig-headed or stubborn. It’s because I have met Jesus, He has changed my life in a very real way, and I love Him too much. I don’t share my testimony and my religious views because I am hoping to convert people or win arguments. I do it because I am so grateful for what God is done in my life that I just enjoy telling others about it. Sometimes it’s an overflow of my thoughts, sometimes it’s because I sense that something I have learned from God and experienced in my walk with Him may comfort someone. Yes, there have been times that I have posted something in frustration over what I see happening in our country, but when I do this I am not so much angry with specific people as I am heartbroken over a country, a world, that is turning its back on Jesus, Who loves us and gave His lifeblood for us. He rejoices over us and wants us to return to Him so that He can give us abundant life, not a fake life that is fun for a few years and then runs dry and leaves us exhausted and wanting (Zephaniah 3:17, Hosea 14, John 3:16, John 10:10).
This post is for those Believers who are tempted to give up and give in–be bold, speak up for Jesus! Speak up in love, not judgment or condemnation (1 Peter 3:15,16). Yet practice discernment and prayer in choosing your time, place, audience and method of testimony. Our job is to show the glory, the awesome nature of Christ, which is represented by the Holy Spirit in us. It is God’s job to woo people, to show a need for repentance of sin and to change their hearts. You don’t have to work so hard to do that, Christian. Just love.
This post is also for those who DON’T believe. I know we Christians can seem strange, and there’s a good reason for that, but if you get around a GENUINE Christian you shouldn’t be able to doubt their heart or their concern for you. Don’t be afraid of them, don’t be afraid to be their friend. A genuine Believer just cares for you and wants to show you the goodness of Jesus, in whatever way speaks love and life to you. We may be weirdos, but we’re usually weird in a good way. I want to thank the people I call friends who aren’t Believers like me, who may not agree with me on various social and political issues, but who have given me a chance, who remain kind and have permitted me to earn a place in their lives.
I am choosing to spend the next few months silent on social media about faith and politics, instead focusing on praying for our nation during this election season while also building more relationships in my community and looking for ways to serve people. (There may be a few people right now applauding me shutting up–you’re welcome.) I’m sure that I will feel tempted to open my mouth here and there, but there is a time for everything under the sun, and besides, sometimes silence is louder than speech.
I leave you guys with some words of encouragement from the master Himself.
“All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved…So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known.” (Matthew 9: 22, 26)
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
“...In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, I have overcome the world.” (John 16, 33)
“If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” (1 Peter 4, 14-16)