Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Let's Do the Hard Work of Love

I have been on a study leave for the past two weeks, and I am happy to be back online and in community with the people who are Legacy Church and with you in the blogosphere.

As I re-entered my routine, the media-hyped, social phenomenon of Chick-fil-a occurred. So much can be said about the misconceptions and perceptions of who said what and who did what, that my 400-word post won't cover it all. But, I do have one thing to say to my fellow Christians:

You can't reduce your relationship with Christ to whether or not you eat at a particular fast-food restaurant on a certain day. 

As I said, I'm fresh off a study leave in which I was immersed in Paul's Letter to the Galatians under the tutelage of Dr. JMG Barclay . The Apostle wrestled with a group of Christ-followers who insisted those who followed Jesus had to do certain public things to show you trusted Jesus. His conclusion?
 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Gal. 5:6 TNIV
Translated to last week:
For in Christ Jesus neither going through a fast-food line or not going through a fast-food line has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. 
Paul "relativized" all outward religious activity and signs to a relationship with Christ that shows itself in love. This was so important to him, he wrote in the last lines of his letter, "what counts is the new creation" (Gal. 6:15)

Whether you did or didn't support Chick-fil-a on August 1, Paul would say, "Fine," but, he would remind you what counts is our "new creation" relationships with real people in real time, loving and serving them as Jesus would.

I am all for public displays of faith. Jesus was, too. (Matthew 5:16) However, let's make sure the impetus for our display is love and the motive is to help people trust Jesus--not in reaction to media-hyped sound bites and images. (I know there's more to it than that, but I'm afraid our response would have been different without "news" shows.)

Let's do the hard work of love in the relationships God has placed us in so we will be known in the public square in that way.

PS I know I can't cover everything in this post, so feel free to add your comments. 


journeytobecomingone said...

About a week following "Chickfila Day", a Christian friend whom I admire deeply posted a passage from 1 Corinthians 13. Whether it was in response to the back and forth of this event I don't know, but it spoke to me.
I have read so many blog posts, facebook statuses and twitters about how the church got it wrong, how it was about free speech, letters in love to homosexuals, how it was the greatest public display of hatred ever.

"...let's make sure the impetus for our display is love and the motive is to help people trust Jesus..."

Great words. Whether the church at large got it terribly wrong or our actions were spot on or most likely somewhere in between, sounds like the greater issue is what we do with our words and actions now that it's over and in future instances.

"The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love."

Thank you for this great reminder from Scripture. May I use this verse as a filter from which I consider my words and actions.

faithrunner said...

Marshall, Keep me accountable, too. It's hard to know the path sometimes when we get direction and prodding from so many directions. Thanks for your regular messages to encourage me and others.

GregB said...

I saw the Chick-Fil-A thing as a company answered a question honestly and then was bullied by those who did not like what they had to say. To me the Aug 1'st day was more about supporting a company that was not folding to peer pressure as anything. Whether they are right or wrong, they were not "luke warm". They answered a question that they have been very consistant on since their beginning. I agree with you that in Christianity we should not add or subtract things and make those things "requirements" to show faith. We are to 1) love God, and 2) Love others. In the process of doing those two most important things we need to stay true to our beliefs and faith in Christ. There are a lot of people who believe it is not possible to show compassion to people that you do not agree with, or share beliefs with.... yet Jesus did it. We can too, but we'll always be in the "world's" cross-hairs.