I have been thinking about how Christians often try to stand up for Christ. Every now and then this effort comes with a beautiful story where Grace and Beauty are made more evident than before we arrived. Other times it seems that Jesus must be shaking His head saying “Stop before you hurt yourself…or worse yet, someone else.”
The latter seems to happen most when the stand is being taken against a person or group of people who are engaged in a lifestyle, political affiliation or faith community that the standing Christian finds to be outside of their understanding of what honors God. In this scenario, the stand is almost never defined by the words Grace and Beauty. In fact it is often labeled as hateful. These stands, while very effective at inflating our egos, are largely ineffective at conveying the deepest truth of the Gospel–God loves you and embraces you in the midst of your mess. It also tends to feel hypocritical because we often accent the mess we see in someone else’s life over and above our own mess; a mess that Jesus calls a log versus the grain of a mess we are standing against.
Scripture does contain a very strongly worded challenge from Jesus in Matthew 10. Jesus says that if we deny Him before men, He will deny us before the Father. Wow. Those are strong words, and almost seem out of character compared to so many other things He says throughout the Gospels. So, evidently we are not supposed to deny Christ. Some folks take this to mean that they must be willing to burn every bridge in an effort to prove their religious worldview correct and any opposing worldview incorrect. I wonder though, if there is a better way to view this call to confess Jesus before those around us. Maybe hostile takeover is not the best way to avoid denying Him.
I suppose a good thing to ask ourselves is, who are we standing against? Are we taking morally superior stances over and against those who are practicing immorality? For example, thieves, prostitutes, adulterers, etc. I wonder when it happened that confessing Christ before others became exposing and shaming the very communities Jesus was criticized for loving. Perhaps confessing Christ before others has more to do with standing in solidarity with those whose lives are seen as shameful, than exposing them to more shame. Perhaps it is the willingness to show love and acceptance to those deemed unlovable and unacceptable. Maybe our understanding of Standing up for Christ too often misses the point. Maybe it’s time we decide to sit down for Christ. Maybe it’s time we sit at a table with those known as “sinners”. Maybe it’s time we sit in the mud with those our society has decided belong there. Maybe, in the very paradoxical Kingdom of God, sitting in loving silence alongside those lying in the moral margins is the greatest stand we can take.