As a way to continue the conversations in The Biola Hour, we've invited Sam Gassaway to blog her thoughts after each episode. This is a response to Episode 22 on Winsome Persuasion, found here. Feel free to interact with Sam's thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter (@sgkay47).
Preserving priorities is a game Christians have stopped playing. Our priorities have shifted from love and care to confrontation and aggression. We have exaggerated the anger and controversy of Jesus and belittled the reasons why.
We have turned Jesus into an angry revolutionary who fought culture without loving people; even more, we believe he fought culture brutally and only loved people who were nice to him. We’d be wrong on both accounts.
Jesus fought culture by loving people.
Jesus chose to love instead of confront. Rather, he loved and earned a spot of respect in the minds of those who needed confrontation most. Instead of giving them a lesson, he gave them his life.
He was a revolutionary, absolutely, but he changed the narrative through how he ruthlessly and fiercely loved those who no one else would. The people Jesus ate with (or who he went to the movies with and whose houses he had sleepovers at) were people who hurt people. A lot. Repeatedly.
For this analogy, I like to imagine Jesus as the good kid from the right side of the railroad tracks who everyone knows is going to college. I like to think of him crossing the tracks one day and stumbling upon the house of the local high school crack dealer.
So, as the good kid who is safest sticking to the honors kids in all his classes, he abandons the security of familiarity and walks up to the house. Jesus and the dealer become best friends. Everyone in town knows how much those two love each other, their friendship is something beautiful to behold: Jesus never partakes in the lifestyle, but he still loves his friend so much, even as the dealer leads the same perilous life he did when they met.
This friend of Jesus also has the tendency to swindle those he does business with. He often threatens and steals from them once he understands they need what he offers. Over time, the two grow to a place where Jesus feels he now has the space now to tell his friend how much what he does bothers him. This is Christ-like confrontation.
He did not burst uninvited through the door of a house he had never been to and try to smack some sense into the inhabitants.
He has loved him, earned his trust for no reason other than the love and trust itself. Jesus is not ignorant of his friend’s actions and behavior; in fact, it is because of his behavior that Jesus wants to get to know him better.
“Walls can come down when we show up when people are hurting.”
Professor Tim Muehlhoff graced the stage at the Biola Hour this week, talking about his new book Winsome Persuasion. The book essentially outlines the reason a majority of Christians are thought of in a negative light: we have prioritized confrontation and put love on the back-burner.
He illustrated this with UFC fighter Derrick Lewis’ actions in the wake of devastating Hurricane Harvey. Lewis is a man with everything to lose and the means to salvation in his possession for many people stranded in the city of Houston, and one man and his family were trapped in the middle of the city.
The man had nothing to his name but his family, his clothes and a family heirloom: a Confederate flag. He repeatedly told Lewis how sorry he was, and if he could hold it in the back where no one could see because he understood how offensive it could be; nonetheless, it held some sort of significance for him and he did not want to part with it.
“I don’t care about that,” Lewis said. “I’ve been living in the South all my life, and it ain’t nothing I hadn’t seen before or discussed about. I don’t care about that type of stuff. I just wanted to help him.”
I can hear Jesus saying the same words to critics of his friend.
I just wanted to help him.
When will we start looking at the areas of our community that are in need and—instead of shoving our faith down their throats and asking why it doesn’t taste good to them—enter with an attitude of assistance.
When will we look at our neighbors and say instead, “I see you’re hurting, and I just want to help.”