I recently read a report of a well-known pastor’s response to a (very public) unjust accusation that had been hurled at him and his church. Rather than condemning his accusers, he encouraged his parishioners to show those who were slandering them the love of the Savior. Leaders throughout the Body of Christ commended his reaction. I, too, was moved by his generous spirit. But I couldn’t help thinking how sad it was that his behavior was viewed as “exceptional.” Should it be front page news when followers of Christ chose forgiveness over self justification?
We live in a gotcha’ culture. Everyone from politicians to protesters seems to have an angle that promotes self-interest. What’s in it for me dominates the thinking of most. And it’s not getting any better. I think that’s why when Christians really act like “little Christs” it seems extraordinary. Those who take seriously the admonition to “do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit and consider others better than [them]selves” are rare.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Pastor Tim Keller writes that when believers grasp the inestimable value God places on them through the Cross, a “freedom of self-forgetfulness” emerges. Lives once suffocating in self-awareness breathe in the oxygen-rich awareness of being accepted. Such abundance provokes a longing to give, not get from others.
It causes us to pursue Jesus with reckless abandonment. And in so doing….we forget ourselves. We forsake the need to defend ourselves, to judge or justify our actions. We live for Him, and in living for Him we live like Him. In living like Him, we love….
I like how Billy Graham puts it: “The world can argue against Christianity as an institution, but there is no convincing argument against a person who has been made Christlike.” I look forward to the day when we who follow Christ will so radiate his mark of selfless love that our behavior would not be seen as a rarity, but as common….
Common Christians living out Common Christianity! It would change the world.