Lately I’ve been listening to a spoken word poet and rapper who goes by Propaganda, specifically his album Excellent (Which is available legally for free via the link, I highly recommend it) He has a song called “Forgive Me For Asking” in which he calls out American Christianity for hypocritical, agenda-oriented, shallow faith. He then calls out Muslims on their faith, followed by the scientific and agnostic\atheist community. Finally he finishes on a personal level by bringing to light our tendency to a hypocritical works based faith instead of by grace through faith. It’s a deeply thought provoking song. There is one lyric though that has stuck with me for the last few months, its after he has pointed out flaws with Christians, Muslims, and Agnostics, as well as himself:
“Maybe I’m wrong, maybe you’re right.
Maybe we’ll find out the day after the world ends.
Yeah, I guess we’re all a little inconsistent,
So maybe we can just show each other some grace?”
That gets me. I know I’m inconsistent. One day, my sin is so clear to me that all I can do is beg the Lord for grace and forgiveness in that moment. The next day, I’ll some how have convinced myself that I got it all figured out. God gave me a hand up, but I did the hard work. All these sinners need to get their lives together and stop disappointing the Lord. I’m on my own level. Anyone else ever like this? Anyone else find it easy to slip into self-righteousness? I do.
The fact is I’m human. I carry the human condition. This means I am innately inconsistent. Some days, I say and do the all the right things. Others, my life looks like a train wreck. This is why we fail to be excellent. Excellence has consistency. We rely on the source of Excellence, the Christ. And that’s a beautiful, relieving moment.
See I feel I’m a generally good person, not by my nature, but only because the Spirit within me is constantly course-correcting my devious bent for wrong. I didn’t earn that Spirit, it was a gift and isn’t something I can brag about. Left to my own devices, I’ll always act on my own selfish ambitions and desires and make no amends for their consequences. With the spirit, while, still not truly consistent, I’m working towards it. Not to be saved, see that’s already been given. I’m working towards this because I’m free to work towards it, to refine myself and better myself without having to “win” anything and I can do it free of arrogance, because it wouldn’t have even been possible without the Cross giving the ability.
This is a great thing. Yet this isn’t my point. I am still so quick to point out other groups failures and issues. Yet I have just as many failures and issues! Don’t lose me here, I’m not making a statement over whose right and wrong. I’m simply saying, instead of all of the bickering (I mean look at the status quo, has it really gotten us anywhere?) why don’t we show each other some grace. Instead of labeling the president a heathen, Muslims as terrorists, Professors and scientists as liars and Christians as bigots, can we just own up to our own inconsistency and share the same grace we bestow ourselves, to others? There is a really famous thought about all this: “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”
It doesn’t mean you have to agree with someone else, it just means you show respect, and goodwill towards them. It means you stop waiting for them to misstep so you can pounce on that moment to prove your point. It means trying to get along.
Specifically to Christians, I just want to say, you are called to serve Christ by serving others. Rich, poor, Buddhist, Muslim, Atheist, Republican, Democrat, Anarchist, Communist, Capitalist, Pro-choicer, Pro-lifer, Pro-Guns, Anti-Guns, White, Black, KKK, Westboro. All of them. They do not serve you. You serve them, just as Christ served us (who are a wrong, ignorant and hostile people) It doesn’t matter how wrong or right they may be. The foundation of every word and action is love. Our actions are never reactions, because in all things we love and serve others. This makes life far less complicated for us too, though not necessarily easier. Whatever good or bad some person or group does to you, you already know your response. Love and service. Working that out, isn’t easy, wasn’t for Christ either, but we are called to do it. So maybe instead of spending so much time explaining why the other side is wrong, we can work on this whole love-service fundamental. Alright?
“It is this lack of love among Christians which today makes the church an insipid, lukewarm institution. People come to find affection and are turned off by our tepidity.”
“If I can enjoy a joke at the expense of another; if I can in any way slight another in conversation, or even in thought, then I know nothing of Calvary’s love.”
“Assuredly there is but one way in which to achieve what is not merely difficult but utterly against human nature: to love those who hate us, to repay their evil deeds with benefits, to return blessings for reproaches. It is that we remember not to consider men’s evil intention but to look upon the image of God in them, which cancels and effaces their transgressions, and with its beauty and dignity allures us to love and embrace them.”