I've been thinking.
And you know how I get quiet when I'm thinking, right? I've tried to sit down and write a decent blog post over the past week or two, but I've been stuck.
Lately there's been such a clamor of voices all around me that I've just had to pull my head in like a turtle to process it all. It seems that everyone has such loud opinions about everything right now: gay marriage, politics, the war on terror, abortion, nuclear arms deals, the imminent collapse of civilization as we know it... pick a topic and there's a chorus of outrage and anger that erupts.
I get it, I get it. Believe me, I do.
And I'm all for righteousness, and fighting the good fight, and standing up for justice. There is certainly a need and a place for it.
But I've got this gnawing feeling in my stomach that we, as people who bear the name of Christ, are missing something really, really important.
I keep thinking that while we are waging the culture war, we are losing the love war.
And this is what I want to say:
Let's bring back the fruit of the Spirit, y'all.
When did it fall from fashion?
Galatians 5 puts it this way:
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things. (NLT)
I guess I'm trying to figure out where in the Bible Jesus might have said, "Be the loudest and most abrasive person in the room so you can get my message across."
Or where He might have commanded us to criticize anyone who holds a different opinion than us.
I can't find a scripture to support name-calling, or finger-pointing or hate-mongering. But we do it anyway, because "we have Right on our side," and it entitles us to judge and to belittle and to scorn anything that smacks of oh, I don't know...too much liberalism, too much conservatism, or compromise, or even a (gasp) slightly different interpretation of scripture.
I just haven't seen a whole lot of love lately, and it bothers me.
I see indignation and wrath as our default setting. We're so quick to put our dukes up and assume a fighting stance at the mere mention of our pet topics.
But is this how we should act? I'm struggling here, folks.
Allow me to put forth this today:
As people of faith, we should take a higher road.
Let's be the ones to love people who disagree with us. Let our words be balm and healing to those who are wounded around us.
Let's stop having to be right about everything, and instead build bridges made out of gentleness and goodness. Right will win out in the end, anyway.
Let's quit having to say the last word; and with gracious self-control, listen to the other side. We might learn something.
Let's outdo our enemies, whether real or perceived, in kindness.
Let's not qualify our generosity for only those who "deserve" it.
When we start to lash out in anger, let's ask, "what would love do here?"
Jesus said, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
Love one another, love one another, love one another.
I can think of no better example of this than the members of Emanuel AME Church and the people of the city of Charlston, after the racially motivated shooting that killed nine. Their words and acts of forgiveness inspired a fresh wave of reconciliation across the country, and made me examine my own heart in a new way.
This kind of grace - this fruit of the Spirit in the face of evil - is more powerful than anything else I can imagine.
It leaves me in awe of what is right and good, and it pulls me toward it.
It pulls me to Jesus.
And isn't that really what it's all about?
Today, let's put down the anger and run toward the love. Let's be part of something bigger and grander and more beautiful than anything this world can understand.
Let's bring back the fruit of the Spirit, and let's set our world on fire with it.