I may get in trouble here…
I have watched the news concerning the couple in Washington State that refused to bake a wedding cake for a same sex couple getting “married”. I watched the news reports on the elected Clerk of Court, Kim Davis, who refused to sign a same sex marriage license. I have seen coaches pray publically with their team after a game. Frequently I pass a Planned Parenthood clinic on my way to the airport. And frequently there is a man standing praying – sort of a protest or demonstration. I’ve seen him in hot and cold weather, rain and snow. This man is committed to what he believes. (I once stopped to speak with him – thank him.)
While I agree with the desire to protest the things that I disagree with, I wonder if we are in the wrong battles and may loose the war. In our protests are we loosing the ability to show grace and love? Isn’t that what Jesus called us to do?
A young man recently said to me, “I don’t believe in Jesus.” He was wanting to get a rise out of me; baiting me. I took a breath and said, “That’s OK – Jesus believes in you.” I would loved to have argued with him…but it wasn’t the battle I needed to have. I need to be in relationship and dialogue with him more than win an argument. I could have won the battle and lost the war.
A couple of years ago, my church was sadly split in two. It was heart wrenching for me. It was the very church that had sent my grandparents to China as medical missionaries. I felt very strongly about it and made passionate pleas about standing true. Some of the arguments landed on whether to have a large screen in the sanctuary (really?), the use of a guitar in worship (really?), same sex marriage and the ordination of a homosexual pastor. I regret the way in which I presented my position. It was perceived as judgmental – not gracious. I fear I hurt some dear members of that church and made the situation worse. I regret how I did it, not that I did it.
Some of the issues are smoke screens. They take our focus off the real issue which is, do we believe in the authority of scripture? That’s the bottom line. That’s the side where I come down. But how do I come down? Is it with harsh statements and criticism and judgment? That’s not Jesus’ way.
Is it truly important to refuse to bake a cake for a couple that wants to celebrate their relationship? Is that a battle we need to fight? When you make that the issue, you loose the opportunity to have dialogue with those with whom you disagree. Ms. Davis was elected to do a job. But the conversation was soon hijacked by a political agenda. Is that really our objective?
Are we doing some of this protest in defiance? Is defiance the role we are to play?
I believe we are to take a stand for what we believe. There are battles we must wage. Fights we must enter. But let’s be careful which things deserve our protest and which really do not matter in comparison to what Jesus has called us to do: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” We cannot begin to do that if we cut off dialogue with the very ones we are to reach. The Apostle Paul admonished us, “Let your speech always be full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you know how to answer everyone.”
Choose your battles wisely.