The Christian Problem

You see, we’ve got this problem as Christians.

It’s a problem, where,
unlike the rest of the world,
we’re not allowed to demonize or villainize
Trayvon Martin or George Zimmerman.

It’s a problem, where,
because we decided to follow Christ,
this guy who loved outcasts,
this guy who loved all humanity,
even to the point of dying for people who completely hated him,
and because we agreed to do our best
to live in Christ-like ways,
to have Christ-like attitudes,
we show love to both a person like
Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman,
and want the best for them, too,
despite whatever initial reactions we may or may not have.

It’s a problem, where,
we not only have to show mercy, grace, and forgiveness,
but we also have to want to show mercy, grace, and forgiveness
to Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman,
who really are people just like you and me,
who make stupid mistakes day after day,
who deal with the consequences and tragedies that result,
no matter what actually happened,
and none of us were actually there
to say what actually happened.

It’s quite the dilemma
to have to want to show grace, mercy, and forgiveness
to anyone who the popular world has tried to turn into a monster.

It’s a problem, where,
because we belong to the Church,
this living body of Christ,
we have to be an extension of that Church,
a body that is required to open its doors
to anyone just like
Trayvon Martin or George Zimmerman,
and welcome them with Christ’s love,
no matter what they did or didn’t do,
and show Christ’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness to them,
and look at them with Christ-like eyes,
eyes that seek to see the good in them,
eyes that seek to see the hope for both of them.

You see, this is quite a problem to follow Christ,
and not follow the world’s pressures and desires.
I suppose this is why the Church is not really that popular after all,
it’s why the Church will never ever be popular,
because it says to resist the world,
and do things that are unpopular,
like love both Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman equally,
with the same Christ-like love,
and want the best for anyone
who the world in all of its emotionalism and reactionalism,
has deemed as evil.

Christ certainly sees the best in us
and is willing to forgive our mistakes;
following Christ means we’ve agreed to do the same.

This really is quite the problem,
but it really shouldn’t be a problem
for the person who has claimed Christianity,
but rather it is the problem
for the world in understanding Christianity.

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viewing others through the eyes of Christ

In viewing others through the eyes of Christ, we begin to live in a way that reflects the Church God has called us to be.

2 Corinthians 5:16-21 (NIV)

16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
19 that God was reconciling us to himself through Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

This scripture has two implications for living a holy life. First, we are to view others through the same eyes God views them. Second, we are to be ambassadors of Christ’s reconciliation. In regarding others with the eyes of God, we open the opportunity for others to be reconciled to God and become a new creation, just as each one of us has been reconciled to God through Christ.

Paul writes in verse 16 to “regard no one from a worldly point of view.” As Paul states, we are new creations through Christ; as a result, we must begin to see people how God sees them. The way we understand people often determines how we treat people. Seeing someone from a Godly point of view means treating them with the respect and love that God would show that man, woman, or child. It means showing them the love and respect that Christ would show; Christ, after all, is the example we have of God on this earth. Not only does this determine how we treat non-believers, but also our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

Too often, we in the Church treat our family with contempt, anger and bitterness; there is no difference between this and how people in the world view each other. This is not the way to do it; we must instead view our fellow Christian brothers and sisters in a Godly way. Treat them with respect and love. When someone trips, falls, or stumbles, we help them get back on their feet in a loving way. If someone makes a mistake, we as Christians can not call each other names, cast blame, or attempt to divide the Church; alternatively we hold each other accountable in a way that reflects the love of Christ. We help restore each other as only the restoring blood of Christ can offer.

As we build relationships with those who choose not to believe in Christ, we view them in the same Christ-like way. In the Wesleyan tradition and in the Church of the Nazarene, the denomination I am a part of, we recognize what is called prevenient grace. It is God’s warm love and grace that is constantly drawing everyone, even non-believers, towards him. So for those who may disagree with Christianity, or who may have not yet heard the gospel of Christ, Christians are not to thump the Bible down on their heads but show them the warmth and love that Christ showed to those he interacted with on earth. We are to represent God’s prevenient grace. We have the example of Christ’s interaction of the woman by the well who was shamed into getting water at a time when no one else would be there, or the man who cried out for Christ to help his unbelief when his child died. God has made us into new creations, and as a result we have no choice but to view humanity through the same eyes that Christ views humanity.

Working at a homeless shelter in Kansas City for nearly the past year and a half, I work with many men who have spent time in prison and faced hopeless addictions to alcohol and other hardcore drugs. However, through knowing Christ their lives have completely changed, a result that can only be explained by the redemptive and transformative power of Christ. The old has gone, and they are new creations. Even so, these men, who may have once viewed people through the eyes of a hopeless and scared person, are now able to start viewing others with the hopeful eyes of Christ. It may have only been because they themselves were seen by someone who had the eyes of a new creation in Christ.

This is a gift of God that is only available through Christ. Specifically, as Paul writes, this is the gift of reconciliation. In verses 18 to 19, Paul states, “All this from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”

Becoming a new creation is to become reconciled with God. Our sins, our downfalls, our addictive habits and behaviors, are all erased through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. After Christ’s death, we are once again able to become the people God originally created us to be. We can once again be in relationship and in proper worship of God. God will work in our lives through Christ and the Holy Spirit to transform us into new creations. “The old is gone, the new is here!” as Paul exclaims.

Ultimately, however, it does not stop with simply receiving Christ’s reconciliation. Paul writes that “he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” Furthermore, Paul states in verse 20, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” We must now be the body of Christ. We must be agents and ambassadors of reconciliation ourselves. We must view others through the same eyes that Christ has viewed us. We must give others the opportunity to become a new creation in Christ. To view others in a Christ-like way is a mindset and a way of thinking that we must actively be aware of. It is only an opportunity that comes through Christ; it is through this that we are able to become the righteousness of God as Paul describes in verse 21.

This is the beginning of holy living in how we relate to those living around us. We must treat people with the same love and respect that Christ has so gracefully shown each one of us. This is how we become the Church God has called us to be.