Last weekend I was with my church at our local Gay Pride festival. We were giving out hugs and high-fives to everyone who came within in a 5-foot radius.
Two men walked up to us. They had driven up from a conservative church in the South and wore T-shirts with inflammatory statements:
Jesus is the Judge, therefore:
Abortion is Murder
Homosexuality is a Sin
Islam is a Lie
Evolution is a Delusion
Feminism is Rebellion
Liberalism is a False Religion
Conservatism is Pretend Salt
As someone who had recently written about the harm caused when the church had judged and rejected the gay community , I strongly felt like it was my duty to fight with them. It was a black and white issue. I thought to myself, “look at these idiots spreading their hate to everyone. Thank God I am here to tell them what Jesus really thinks.”
But then I remembered:
God hasn’t called me to argue with people or to point out where they’re messing up. He’s called me to love.
As much as I enjoy arguing and as much as my ego gets a boost from being right, at my core I want to be a peacemaker.
I decided that even though these two people were looking for a fight, I would give them a friend. I’m sure they were expecting people at this festival of sin to be angry with and oppose them. People were angry with and opposed Jesus, after all. But since I’m an aspiring peacemaker, I decided to practice something my dad taught me a long time ago: selective agreement.
The first guy launched into a speech about how important the Bible was and how we shouldn’t follow the crowd – we needed to read it for ourselves and make our own decisions. This actually seemed to true to me, so I agreed.
In fact, whenever he said something that was true, I noticed and encouraged it. Whenever he said something which wasn’t true, I just ignored it.
And that was it. After a while I hugged the first guy and they both left.
Other Christians did end up engaging with them and telling them the truth: Jesus didn’t spread hate and we shouldn’t either. Don’t get me wrong, I do think that some people are called to do this. Some prominent Christian leaders have been recently talking about how to ban gays from our churches and how to keep Muslims from immigrating to our country. Those leaders need to be held accountable by someone, but that someone isn’t me.
I’ve come to realize that in battles like these, I’m called to be a medic, not a soldier.
Soldiers fight. They attack and withdraw. They lead charges.
But not me.
I don’t win battles. I don’t get medals. I kneel beside the wounded and bandage them up. I speak truth to them: I tell them that they’re strong and brave. I remind them of who they really are.
I pour love into their wounded sides. I take off their crown of thorns.
In his sermon the mount, Jesus said, “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Maybe you’re called to stand up to people. How could you bless them while not compromising your beliefs? Maybe you’re called to be a medic. How can you help nurse people back to spiritual health?