How can I demonstrate God’s love? See something, say something, maybe.
He looked to be about 8 years old, the kid focused on the front edge of his skate board as he determinedly rode up and down my street. His track was the pavement in front of several houses on my block.
I stood at the window sipping a cup of coffee, watching his progress as he got the hang of his new gadget.
Back and forth, back and forth he went, the clattering sound of skateboard wheels on the rough pavement reaching into my living room. The expression on his face showed how much he was concentrating – how fast can I go, how fast can I turn, can I do a flip – normal stuff for a kid when there’s no skateboard ramp nearby.
He was still focused down at his feet when the car came up behind him. There were no sidewalks in our neighborhood, only a few cement driveways. Any of those would have been safe for him to swerve onto to get out of the car’s way.
But he was facing the wrong way, he didn’t hear the car, and so he didn’t swing onto the nearest driveway. He kept right on pushing, right in the street, right in the path of that oncoming car.
There was a posted speed limit but our street being a short cut between two major roads, many drivers ignored it. They often speeded up instead. Still watching, I frowned as I realized that the driver didn’t see the boy. In a minute it would be too late for him to stop.
What should I have done? It wasn’t my problem. That wasn’t my child. I didn’t know his family. They shouldn’t have let him play in the street anyway. Is that what I should have thought?
No. I jerked open the front door and ran outside yelling at the top of my lungs. Hey! Hey? Car! Car!
Both boy and driver saw my flailing arms, thankfully. The car veered into the other lane – good thing there was no oncoming traffic – and the boy jumped for the shallow ditch in front of my house. The car kept right on going, tragedy averted.
Had I been acting in “love,” the way some well-meaning folks seem to define it, I would have simply smiled and kept silent. I would have let the boy continue on his way, oblivious to danger. Would have let the driver commit vehicular manslaughter. Heaven forbid that I should offend somebody with harsh words, hurt the feelings of someone going down the path to eternal destruction.
But that’s not my heart. Not Holy Spirit’s heart, either.
If I see someone who is being deceived (and/or deceiving others), I will probably say something. Write something, maybe. Something, like Hey! Hey! Danger! Danger!
Offensive? Well, “offend” means to stop someone, to turn them out of the way they’re going, so yes. Out of the path of the deceiver.
That tendency has sometimes gotten me into hot water. It has made me the target of sarcastic words to my face and worse words behind my back. Rude online articles sometimes. Or passive-aggressive hostility, the silent treatment from friends who don’t know me or my heart very well.
But it has also gotten some folks free of deceptive entanglements that could have ruined their lives, and helped others avoid that path in the first place.
I listened to President Obama give an address in the aftermath of the terrorist killings in San Bernardino. Let me see whether I followed his message.
President Obama does not want to call this terrorist act as an act of Islamic terrorists because Islam is a religion of peace so these particular terrorists cannot be Islamic terrorists, by definition, because they follow a perverted version of Islam that is not true Islam.
He is unwilling to accept that these terrorists themselves apparently thought (mistakenly, it now seems) that they were followers of Islam.
Therefore, he does not believe groups that use “Islamic” in their names, such as the ISIS and ISIL, are accurate in calling themselves Islamic. It seems that he is the person who gets to decide who is Islamic and who is not, regardless of what they call themselves.
He ought to know, better than I, what constitutes…
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Have you ever been persecuted for your faith?
Not beaten up or shot, imprisoned and tortured as many believers in Jesus around the world are suffering. But maybe just annoyed, aggravated, irritated, made nervous and hesitant about sharing your faith any further in public?
Whenever you’re in the public eye, small or large public, you make yourself a target. In the late 1980’s, many right-wing pro-life Christian activists worked in the political arena and thus made themselves visible targets. I was one of them.
A United States Congressman from my state was running for re-election. He was a left-wing liberal, pro-abortion and pro-big government, and yet he called himself a Christian. (He wasn’t. No fruit.) He was well funded.
Tim and I supported one of his several opponents, one whose beliefs and stances on the issues were in line with ours. He was not well funded.
A debate was held in the local library meeting room. It had been publicized throughout our multi-county district and was attended by several hundred citizens, plus a few TV and print reporters.
Tim and I arrived early and took seats on the front row nearest the entry. As we were already known in the district for community and political volunteerism, a number of people came over to greet us.
When it came time for comments from the candidates, the US Congressman looked straight at me. He did not call my name, although obviously he knew it. He bluntly called me a Nazi, because I so publicly and vocally disagreed with his position on abortion. Taken aback at how ugly and vicious his words were, I could feel my face turning red.
He went on to recount his voting record, his support of the liberal agenda in Washington, and promised more of the same if re-elected.
Our candidate was an older man, a lanky, “red-neck” farmer, not sophisticated in his appearance or manner, but nevertheless he eloquently stated his belief system, his reasons for running for office, and his positions on the issues that affected our district.
It was quite an educational event. Many of our friends came by afterward to sympathize and commiserate on the verbal attack from the platform. We just thanked them for their attendance and asked them to vote for our candidate.
But, the Congressman won in that election, and the next, and the next. After a while no-one had guts enough to run against him. He became a polished, professional politician, racking up many thousands of left-wing dollars along the way.
Eventually our congressional district was split and my town became part of a new district. Our current Congressman is one with high moral standards and one I am very comfortable supporting.
That wasn’t the only time I faced disagreement on the issues, but it was the first from such a public figure, in such an ugly outburst, in such a public forum. I realized then that when you put your name and your face and your voice and your hands and feet out into the public arena for a cause you believe in, you need moral and spiritual guts. You need a thick skin!
You need to determine how much you’re willing to risk, ahead of time. The only way you can stand up and continue to stand, speak out and continue to speak, is by knowing that the Lord who called you to do this assignment lives inside you where it matters.
When someone who disagrees with you calls you a Nazi, Jesus calls you his beloved.