These lines by Wendell Berry soaked like a salve into every place where my spirit ached when I first read them:
“Anybody half awake these days will be aware that there are many Christians who are exceedingly confident in their understanding of the Gospels, and who are exceedingly self-confident in their understanding of themselves in their faith. They appear to know precisely the purposes of God, and they appear to be perfectly assured that they are now doing, and in every circumstance will continue to do, precisely God’s will as it applies specifically to themselves. They are confident, moreover, that God hates people whose faith differs from their own, and they are happy to concur in that hatred.”
I think Berry’s words spoke to me so powerfully because I believe that self-righteous, pompous, arrogant, offensive, deadly-certain Christians–those who are always so ready “to take a stand for Jesus” that they forget what a life lived in the way of Jesus actually looks like–have done more damage than we will ever fully know.
You know those folks. They show up after a storm and wag their fingers about the destruction being the sure judgment of God.
They come around during political elections and fill the air with toxic words about how “people of real faith” should vote.
They show up in the editorial sections of our newspapers to condemn whatever the latest “sin” may be, casting a net wide enough to catch all but themselves.
I hate what these folks have done to people in our churches, our governments, our schools, our communities. And I hate it even more because their destruction is wreaked by their desire to take a stand for Jesus.
I am seeking to take a different stand for Jesus, one embodied by countless, often silent and unseen, others. Is this not the stand that I choose? To love the enemy; to welcome the stranger; to feed the hungry; to seek forgiveness; to celebrate relationship; to abound in joy.