One thing I have learned in life is, the reason why people are so harsh and judgmental on things that they have witness to, is because no one has yet to witness the things they cover up. It is incessantly easy to condemn and throw your opinion on others when you still are able to hide in the shadows. Opinions are easily given, easily distributed like backhanded compliments but, do you know what’s hard? Swallowing those same opinions when your life is on the chopping block.
I am guilty of casting judgment and offering my opinions when the first thing I should have offered was grace. I am guilty of projecting my insecurities and uncertainties about my own life on to others trying to force them to carry weights I find too difficult to bear. None of us our innocent but, what needs to be realized is that the same grace that you need daily is the same grace that everyone else needs. Scripture makes it EXPLICITLY clear, there is no greater or lesser sin, it is all equal in His eyes and if you don’t get it right and “Work out your own soul salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12) you will end up in the same hell with the person you choose to condemn.
I don’t think people really grasp how toxic we can be in today’s time of social media. Everything is instantly at your fingertips and people’s lives, or what they choose to put out, is constantly under a microscope. Without social media, it was already hard trying to exist outside of the realm of people’s expectations but now, it is even harder because everyone feels as though they have a right to your story. If I am honest, I think this is extremely prevalent in “church” or “religious” settings. People often use scripture and God to justify the unacceptable ways that they handle others. I have seen, way too often, people being torn down, ridiculed, shunned, and “canceled” all in the name of defending the gospel but, that is in no way a representation of who God is.
The God that I know and the Jesus that I read about often is one of love and of grace. Jesus is one who sat with sinners and not only taught them the way that they should live but he also stood as perfect example of who God was and how we should live. Of course, some could argue “For whom the Lord loves He chastens” (Hebrews 12: 6) but, to chastens, by definition means to correct, and a lot of what I have seen has not been to correct, it has been to tear down.
My heart goes out to those who have experienced this version of shame filled chastisement and I honestly want to go on record and say to those who are internalizing that pain, that I am truly sorry. If no one else says it, if you never get an apology, from these lines to your heart, I apologize.
I apologize because Jesus did not die on a cross to give anyone license to ridicule you for the burdens that you carry and the things that you struggle with, whether they be in private or in public.
I cringe when I see my fellow believers, and even those outside of the faith being subjected to opinions with no grace. I cringe because of the damage being done to a heart and the shadow being casted over the name of Jesus Christ. I cringe because even believers still don’t grasp the fact that their words have power and every time you use them as knives meant to cut in the name of God you are turning a heart away from Him. When we say we are followers of Christ and do not show the love of Christ, you reinforce to the world that the church is not a place of healing or love and therefore, not necessary.
I never want to be a reason that someone has no interest in getting to know who Jesus is. I never want to be the deterrent for someone’s walk in Christ but, sadly, a lot of people are. We forget, that we may be someone’s only encounter with Christ. If you mishandle that interaction, you have lost a soul for the kingdom of God. Not only that, if you mishandle someone who is already a believer, you may taint their understanding of who God really is and the standards that He holds for us all.
Yes, we are all responsible for our own relationships with God, but we are also supposed to be living representatives for who God is and the love that He has for His children. So, we have to be intentional with the grace and the love we show to others and remember that one day, if not today, we will need that same grace and love returned back to us.