The other day, I had to send an email to a fellow employee at work with whom I’d had a few…let’s say…”communication challenges,” and I copied a few necessary people, so that they could be in the loop on the particular project. I wasn’t mean. I didn’t throw out any sarcastic barbs. In the message, I was nice and I was polite. The interesting thing was that a few minutes later, one of the “copied” people who had been aware of the previous “communication challenges” dropped a note back to me about me being so nice about things. My answer to him? “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”
It is an old saying, but one I think bears revisiting in many circles these days.
I don’t like to listen to Bill Maher, but it’s not because he is anti-religious, or because he is liberal on some subjects or radical on others. I don’t like to listen to him because he is mean-spirited toward those who view things differently from him. For the same reason, I don’t like to listen to Keith Olbermann. His political commentary strikes me as demeaning. On the other hand, I’m not fond of Rush Limbaugh and some of the conservative talkers for the same reason. I dislike disrespect whether it comes from liberals or conservatives; Republicans or Democrats.
But, what really gets under my skin are the folks who claim to be Christians, who are acting in the name of faith in Christ, but are hateful, disrespectful, and hurtful to those around them that might see or do things differently. There’s the preacher in Florida that is determined to burn the Koran to make a statement about Islam. There’s the little church in the Midwest that sends protesters to the funerals of fallen US Soldiers because of some convoluted reasoning derived from their stand against homosexuality. There’s the folks that blow up abortion clinics or shoot down the doctors that perform them. The list goes on.
These folks are missing the message of Christ. Our Lord did not call us to change our society by cramming our views down people’s throats. He didn’t call us to march in the streets, or form political action committees. We Christians aren’t here to shout down those who disagree with us, or burn the books of other religions. Acts 2:38 doesn’t say to repent, be baptized, and join the Republican Party for the forgiveness of your sins. And, especially, our faith never EVER calls us to kill in the name of God.
Okay, Mike, why are we here then? What are we supposed to be doing?
“Bless those who curse you.” “Turn the other cheek.” “Love your enemies.” “Do unto others what you would have others do unto you.” Do any of these phrases sound familiar?
We are here to spread “good news” that we can have freedom from the shackles by which our own actions have bound us. We are here to give a cup of cold water to the thirsty or a warm coat to the chilled. We are here as ambassadors of Christ to facilitate the reconnection of a loving God to his beloved children.
Do people really think that a huge billboard that reads “Avoid Hell, Repent” is going to give that message? If Terry Jones burns the Koran, will that draw the multitudes to a renewed relationship with God? If we ban some books or boycott some TV program, is that going to change society?
What I am suggesting to you, my dear reader, is that Christians need to but the vinegar back in the pantry and pull out the honey instead. We need to display the sweetness of a relationship with our creator. We need to let the nectar overflow from our lives so that no one can miss the obvious fact that we have been truly changed by the love of God.
Would Jesus Christ burn the Koran? I don’t think so. But I know one thing that He would most definitely do; He would pick up a wounded Islamic Fundamentalist, carry him to the nearest inn, bind up his wounds, and pay for his care. What about you neighbor? Would you?