By: Ginger Hughes
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Earlier this month, a well-known male preacher and Bible teacher sat in front of a group gathered together and belittled a well-known woman speaker and Bible teacher, drawing jeers and laughter from the crowd.
As I listened to the interviewer’s baiting question, the preacher’s answer, and comments from another man who joined him on the stage, I was angered. No matter your thoughts on the “doctrine” in question (whether women should be allowed to speak/preach), as Christians, we are called to be Christ-like. And Christ was never in the business of belittling others.
In fact, Jesus’ own words, His perfect direction for us as His followers, are recorded in John 13:34-35. It’s clear—Jesus calls us to love. And here’s the thing—here’s the part that really hurts.
While we (as fellow Christians) sit around and argue over “right” doctrine, people are leaving the church in record numbers.
While we stand around pointing fingers and throwing accusations at one another, our churches are fracturing and falling apart.
While we look at our brothers and sisters in Christ with disdain because they believe a bit differently than we do or because they interpret scripture differently than we do, there’s a world of people who have never known the hope of Jesus watching and wondering why they’d ever want to be associated with Christianity.
No matter how strongly we may feel on any given subject, our greatest impact on this earth will never be because we’ve convinced someone to agree with our theological position on any particular issue. Rather, our greatest impact will always be directly related to how well we love others and how well we point them to the ultimate example of agape love—Jesus Christ.
Each day we meet people from all walks of life…at the grocery store, the bank, our jobs, or our schools. They don’t believe exactly the same as I do or as you do. And that’s okay. Because those people, though different, were created by the same Holy God that created me and you. And they are loved just as much.
Tearing down others will never be the right answer. Loving others always will be. And those of us in the Christian community ought to be able to discuss issues with civility and respect for one another—even with those who believe differently.
People are watching us every day. How we talk to people. How we talk “about” people. How we act towards others. It all matters. That doesn’t mean we’ll be perfect; we won’t. But it does mean that we should always do our very best to lead the way in love. Because if we’ll notice, Jesus didn’t “suggest” that we love others…He commanded it.
-Ginger Hughes is the wife of a pastor, a mother of two and an accountant. She is a Georgia native currently living in the foothills of North Carolina. Her passion for writing is fueled by the desire to offer encouragement, grace and a deeper understanding that we are all God’s children. Her blogging for Nurturing Faith is sponsored by a gift from First Baptist Church of Gainesville, Ga. Additional writings may be found at nomamasperfect.com.