Earlier today, I saw a post on a Facebook thread. It was from a man who asked me to stop calling myself a Christian because it offended him because my doctrine was different than his.
At first I was confused. I really thought I misunderstood the writer. Then when it sank in, for a brief moment I was angry. Then I became really sad.
But as I called on the Holy Spirit, I was filled with the sense of love and compassion. As the day wore on, I was more and more saddened that my actions did not set me apart enough for any man to see who I followed.
I was blessed that the Lord allowed me to see this man's sincerity.
He really did not mean it to be cruel or demeaning. He really believes that I am grossly wrong about Christ and should not call myself a Christian.
The Lord through His Spirit gave me the peace to see through the fog and use this as a moment to learn and grow.
The message he sent to me as he wrote was not about him, me or our doctrines. It is about the point of Christianity.
As you know if you are a fan or more than a casual follower, I have tried hard to speak up for people of all faith. Including Muslims and Atheists.
I have said many times, those least like us, at times, will be the hardest to stand for, but perhaps the most important to love and protect. Standing for others we disagree with will lead others to disagree with us and in some cases, due to the sound bite culture we live in, will cause others to hate us.
Unfortunate but true. How does this help us to change the world?
It won't. Unless our motives are clear and our actions are consistent.
Just as the the Lord taught us in the parable of the Good Samaritan, it will be these moments of the pure Love of Christ in service that will fundamentally change us and the world for the good.
While we cannot be saved by our deeds, (only through His grace), we can be identified by those deeds and works as followers of the Nazarene.
Those fruits will be faith, hope, charity, kindness, compassion, love and healing, among others.
We all have our own doctrine and our own gifts. Those gifts are as varied as our doctrines.
But that is not how The supreme Judge of all mankind will judge us.
He will ask us how we treated the least among us. Our spouse, children and those who despised and hated us.
Why does the Lord have almost universal acceptance as one of the greatest men to ever live? Even if you do not believe in His divinity, people embrace Him because of his love and compassion even to those who drove nails through His wrists and feet.
He loved in the extremes. I as His follower do not. That is my shame.
But He will use anyone who will try.
Just as the Lord used Gandhi in India to bring peace, He will use us. Gandhi studied the man from Galilee and patterned his movement after Christ, yet he was not Christian.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was Christian. But a deeply flawed man in his personal life. There is no doubt that the Lord used him to further His work.
I do not know why the Lord does what He does, as His ways are not mine. But I do know that He will use ANY man, woman or child that is willing to serve Him.
Perhaps in those two examples, the "good Christians" were too busy to see the plight of others, or didn't want to lose their position or even life.
How many of us are in that place? We live by the law, but not by the spirit?
When it comes to our nation, I will stand with any man that understands that all men are created equal and endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights.
But our nation and its players are small in comparison of what is really happening.
More than a change of political parties or presidents, the world needs a change of heart.
I need a change of heart.
We have grouped ourselves into false categories. Republican vs Democrat, black vs white, Christian vs non and rich vs poor.
It is time to look at the world with fresh eyes. It is time to return to the basics.
We are all brothers and sisters. We all are part of the same human family and the Lord will not check membership cards on who He wants saved from fear, death and darkness.
Just as I would not ask what your faith is when you pull my body from a burning car, I believe the Lord is merely looking for servants who are willing to approach the fire to save a life, even at the risk of their own.
I have thought a lot today about my faith.
Do my actions identify me as a Christian? Am I unique enough to have people ask, "what is it about that man that fills him with courage, peace, kindness or compassion?"
I am sad to report that I believe that answer is no. I am really not much different from non believers. I know atheists that are perhaps better examples of how to love than me.
If I were going to change that, the last place I would start is to worry about my doctrine and if others should identify themselves as I do.
Instead, I would worry about my humility, compassion, brokenness and willingness to see the pain in others so I may help heal ourselves and our land.
When I first became a Mormon, I lived and was on the radio in Bible Belt territory. It was very unpopular to say you were a Mormon. Not a lot has changed but, in my arrogance, I decided that I would not shy away from it. I would "announce" to the world and accept what the world would say about me.
As I grew in my faith, I began to regret that decision.
I had only considered this "announcement" from my point of view.
I was heartbroken when I began to consider that I might be one of the only Mormons people might know and I was and still am not what I would call a textbook LDS. My faith like yours is filled with good, humble and tireless servants of the Master.
I begged the Lord for forgiveness. How much damage have I done to the good people in my faith and to the Church as a whole.
Not everyone in my faith votes the way I do, speaks as loosely as I do and most are much more charitable, reasoned and kind.
How many of us state: "I am a Christian" without really considering how inappropriate our actions are most of the time?
Those who stood in the classrooms in Oregon are braver than I am, those who have been sold into slavery and still don't hate are more forgiving than I and those who never hesitate to embrace the prisoner, homeless and the sick are more compassionate and Christlike than I am.
No matter their doctrine.
We do have differences in our doctrine and it is important. But perhaps not today. Perhaps it is better for us to strive to be worthy of taking on His name in ways that have very little to do with doctrine.
By their fruits people will know us.
Maybe there is so much darkness because our fruit is not yet ripe. Perhaps as I examine my tree, I will find that entire sections of the tree bear no fruit whatsoever.
I strive to recommit myself tonight to spend more time in the warmth of His sun (Son) and worry less about what the other trees or farmers are doing.
There is much work to do, before I should be willing to claim His name.
Original exchange follows:
Glenn - I have been a fan and followed your political analysis for several years while you were on FOX and since then. You have a great deal of great insight in political matters. I have even followed your association with the teachings of Christ and I understand the teachings of the Mormon Church. I think you know, but want to remind you, that Evangelical Christians do not consider Mormons as being "Christian" by definition. This use of that term by a Mormon is very offensive to Evangelicals. Acknowledgement of Christ and following principals He taught does not qualify a person to use His name as identification in its Biblical meaning. I know you want to be clear in what you say. I would request that you refrain from the confusion of terms and their proper use. This will then lend more credibility to what you have to say. I therefore request that you change your Facebook photo to your own picture. This comment is made in love and in great respect for you.
Robert, I will not conform to what the world thinks. I will not remove my firm and clear testimony that I AM A CHRISTIAN. I am am a weak and flawed follower of the savior Jesus Christ. The Son Of the Almighty, the Savior and Redeemer of the world. He is the Light, the Life and the only way to the Father.
Robert, I appreciate the way you phrased your request and I love and respect you.
But what kind of man, what kind of Christian asks someone to deny Christ because of their own interpretation of what Jesus would want or accept.
The arrogance of anyone who thinks their doctrine is enough to kick people out of the tent of Christ is staggering.
I do not know you, your heart or your Doctrine. But here is what I do know.
I love you, I respect you and I will stand by your side as we labor in joy to prepare the way of the Lord. But I will always stand by the Lord.
If a Mormon was asked in Oregon if they were Christian they would have answered yes. They too would have been martyred. Would you have denied their commitment? Would you have had the guts to judge them in their death? Or would you have been willing to let the Lord do the judging?
Do you even recognize the great pain you have just inflicted on my heart?
I am profoundly saddened. But, I am truly flawed and so far away from where I need to be as a disciple of Christ.
As we approach his table of Justice and mercy and the Lord corrects me and tells me all that I have done wrong, you may watch Him scold me for any of my wrong doings. I will not hide my shame from you as I only answer to Him.
But what you will never see me do is conform to man for I will have only more shame brought upon me.
Again Robert, I mean you no ill will and I would hope that if we were standing together we both would have tears in our eyes and could hug each other even in our disagreement.
I will always profess loudly, clearly but with a broken heart and contrite spirit:
I am a follower of the Nazarene. I am a flawed follower of Jesus Christ. I hope I never have to face what others are facing today around the world, but I pray we all have the courage to declare: