I have a confession to make.
Many of you people make me uncomfortable.
It’s true. But, I try hard to hide it for a million reasons.
Reason one: I don’t see Jesus ever being uncomfortable – ever. Read the gospels. He walked through this world like He owned it. (Okay, He did, but still.)
I don’t ever see Him dodge a situation, or stumble over words, or mumble an answer. He just related to other people. All kinds. Sinners and would-be saints. He loved them AND He said hard things to them without ever skipping a beat. That, alone, is enough reason to want to be like Him.
Since I represent Him, I figure I shouldn’t be uncomfortable either, but I’m still in process of becoming like Him.
So, sometimes, I am living and speaking from the new growth part of my soul; but other times, I’m sticking up a cardboard likeness of Jesus between myself and others hoping that will hold up until I can figure out what He would say or do in this situation. It’s not really working for me or the others in my conversations, so I must find a way of not doing that.
Reason two: It’s not okay to be uncomfortable in these times. We’re all supposed to know what to say to everyone all the time. If you don’t know what to say, hesitate a heartbeat too long, it’s a signal that you are suspect (of whatever is worst to be at any given time).
It’s especially bad from someone who works with words for a living. Of all people, I ought to have the patter down. But, you know, I just don’t.
And, it’s not for lack of trying. My goodness, I’m in my Bible every day. I watch the news (more than one station). I view Ted Talks and read writers who think differently than I do as well as heroes of my faith.
I’m honestly trying to be open to people who think and live in ways that I don’t, but still represent the bold truth of the Bible. I have to tell you, one thing I’m truly looking forward to in Heaven is a long, long nap.
I study people who articulate well the truth I live, and try to do what they do. But, it’s a lot harder in the lunchroom at work than it is from a stage surrounded by people who already agree with what you’re saying.
I listen hard to people who reject this truth and try to love them with my ears, with my attention, with my attempts at empathy, knowing full well that we may connect while I listen, but the moment I open my mouth to voice what I believe, they’re just as likely to feel that all my listening was a sham, a smokescreen, a baited hook, (and are they that wrong? for I am, after all, a fisher of men – make that men and women. Make that humans. Make that . . . never mind. You know what I’m trying to say.)
But, it’s not about catching fish to eat them, but about fishing people out of the drink, so they can be safe on deck when the storm comes because you want to be in Jesus’ boat as the lightning strikes.
You get this, right? I mean, I didn’t expect this struggle. I was always the kid in class with my hand up, the one who volunteered for the speaking parts, the girl most likely to have something to say,
but more and more I’m resembling a bad mime doing an imitation of a fish drowning in water. (Wonder if that’s the symbol I should have on my rear bumper? I mean, truth in advertising, right?)
Reason three: (Okay you knew there was a third because there’s nothing a Christian loves more than truth that comes in threes.) This reason is hard to say because you’re not likely to believe it, but it’s about the fact that I really love you.
You don’t believe that because there are so many things on which we don’t agree. And in these times, to disagree apparently means we must wish each other dead or into non-existence, but that’s not where I’m coming from, as ancient and archaic and retro as that makes me.
I love you and want you to live. I want you to live forever, in fact, but the only way I know for you to do that is through Jesus Christ and with Jesus comes this narrow road, hard truths, and transformation from the way we are to the way He is and that means change – not just for you, I’m changing, too, but I already know His love so it’s a different story, isn’t it? (When I get nervous, I forget to punctuate, I know, but bear with me.)
I think, for all our sakes, I’m going to have to just move this cardboard Jesus-poster I’ve been lugging around, own up to my own humanity, and start entering conversations like this:
“Hey, it makes me wildly uncomfortable to engage in this conversation, because I know just from listening to you that my views aren’t likely to make us friends, but I feel like I’m being dishonest under this cover of silence.”
Or, if I have more time and some Holy Spirit gumption:
“Look, I want us to be at peace. I respect you and the boldness with which you share your views. I’m not looking to judge you or add to the challenges in your life, but you and I see things differently. I hold to ancient truths that have been shared by Bible-believing Jesus-followers for centuries, and I’m not ashamed of them. I’ve been quiet because I don’t want to hurt you (and I admit, I don’t want you to hurt me), but while times are changing, these truths have not. I’ve been building a closet of silence for my own protection, if I’m honest. But for your sake, it’s important for me to come out as a Jesus-loving, Bible believing, modern-day sinner saved by grace. You may choose not to share my views and I will still love you and want to live in peace. You may not feel the same about me.”
Or, you know, maybe I’ll come up with a shorter version.
Thank you for listening. I hope you’re still around after I start talking,
Love, The Jesus-follower in your life.
“If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot.” Jeremiah 20:9
— Lori Roeleveld (@lorisroeleveld) July 3, 2017