Featuring Christine “Clarity” McDonald
Awarded by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon for Outstanding Civil Service.
“The self-righteous scream judgments against others to hide the noise of skeletons dancing in their own closets.” ― John Mark Green
Just cause you say you are of the church a leader of God a Christian with some folks just don’t mean that much at all…
Have you ever wondered how two people can stand side-by-side witnessing the same event, yet report seeing two totally different things? Our past experiences shape how we interpret nearly everything around us. People from strong loving families often have a more confident view of themselves as well as the world they interact with than those who grew up with less support.
Oftentimes these experiences also define our perceptions of who God is, as well as what our purpose is on this planet. Those who have been raised in the church may not always be aware of how far apart their understanding of Jesus and salvation is from those who have only ever been hurt by the world.
Jesus bridged this gap time and time again throughout Scripture. His anger and “judgement” were never directed toward those who were clearly lost. After all, they already felt like they were as far from God as they can get. They saw their need for him. Instead, we see his anger and cutting words repeatedly hurled against the religious leaders of the day who used the law to oppress people instead of freeing them or leading them back to their Creator. Such leaders had no idea of their own need for saving; hence they had no grace for others.
In John Chapter 8, we see Jesus intervene when a group of men wanted to stone a woman caught in adultery. We don’t know precisely what her story is. Was she a willing participant? Was she someone who had been used by others? What we do know is that while she was “caught”, there was no man being condemned alongside her. Whoever she was caught with wasn’t even part of the story. The man who stood up for her, however, was the only perfect and blameless being to ever walk the earth.
If anyone had the authority and was justified in condemning this woman, it was Jesus. He was, after all, the Son of God. But instead, Jesus addressed her accusers, challenging them, “…but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” (Verse 7, NLT). Jesus alone held that right; yet when all of them had left, one by one, he turned to her and offered her freedom.
When we encounter those who need this Gospel, yet have been cast down by life over and over again, are we offering them freedom? People know who they are. Even without ever picking up a Bible, people know when their actions are morally objectionable. What Christ offers is more than a light to illuminate the darkness. His light offers freedom. This freedom does not require that we be changed before we accept it. In fact, we can’t. The changes we require to be clean and holy in His sight can only be made by Him.
Perhaps our job as believers isn’t so much about raising a mirror to people so they see their sins. Perhaps, deep down, they already see them. Perhaps our responsibility is to show them God’s reflection of love, grace and freedom. Perhaps, through our words and actions, consistently and patiently, we can offer them hope.
If you have not walked in the shoes of someone who has been exploited or marginalized by society, tread carefully when speaking about the hope of Christ. Be mindful of their past experiences and formulated ideas of Christians, people of faith, or believers. Their lived experiences may not have been that of goodness and love and grace. It takes one thousand good things to replace one bad thing, so tread lightly and gently, my Christian friends. You never know what brokenness someone might have experienced – even at the hands of a person who claims Jesus as Lord.
Tread gently, therefore, when speaking about the hope of Christ to those who are leaving the life, or those attempting to restore their lives from brokenness of any sort you don’t know. Many other “Christians” they have interacted with were antithetical representations of the gospel of Jesus. If this is all they know, then the concept of God and hope and goodness is a much more difficult sell!
“Love your neighbor… ALL of ’em!” -Christine “Clarity” McDonald