Sidebar Christianity

1 Corinthians 13:13 “But the greatest of these is love.”

Author Bob Goff writes, “The way we love the people we don’t agree with is the best evidence that the tomb is really empty.”  Ouch!

It doesn’t take much insight to see how division is running rampant in our country these days, shredding everything in its wake. The presidential election of 2016 drove people to different sides and positions, unearthing divisiveness with a force. I’m all for having strong opinions. Demonstrating the courage to stand up for what one believes elicits my admiration. Paul even says disputes in the church are needed in order to discover the truth (1 Corinthians 11:19). But when, as believers, we allow ourselves to identify more with our positions than we do with the love of Christ, we’ve succumbed to what I call “sidebar Christianity.”

You’re familiar with sidebars. In newspapers, websites and magazines, they’re the little boxes that appear alongside the main article. They add incidental or supplemental information to the headline to increase interest. They were never intended to be more than complementary.

I hate to say it, but I’ve been guilty of “sidebar Christianity.” Of letting my opinions at times overshadow the main thing. The eternal thing. The beautiful thing. The right or wrong of an issue consumes not only my thinking, but my heart. I begin to harden toward those with a differing position. If I’m not careful, my dislike becomes stronger than my love for God. This should not be. When we can’t love the people we disagree with, we let the headline be stolen.

The love of Jesus is the headline for all believers.

Paul never let his love for Jesus be reduced to a sidebar. Whether addressing people within the church or opponents who tried to kill him, he never let differences stop Jesus’ love from being the headline of his life. His letter to the Corinthians shows us what that love looks like…it’s kind, patient, humble, forgiving, hopeful, trusting, persevering… (Chapter 13). It infused every aspect of his life. And it should ours.

I don’t know if your love and faith are becoming sidebars, if secondary issues are crowding them out. Ah, don’t let that happen. Immerse yourself again in Jesus’ love. Don’t let anyone or anything steal your headline.

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