By Amanda Idleman, Crosswalk.com
Ephesians 4:32: "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."
There is no doubt about it, we live in a politically polarized world. The headlines evoke strong hardline opinions, social media creates space for our most dogmatic selves to emerge, and embracing diversity of thought is a challenge for most of us. The church has grown a reputation of being a dogmatic, close-minded, and politically charged place. This is not at all what God had in mind for his bride. We are to be a safe haven for all people, as we see each other not as enemies but as precious beings all made in the image of our Creator.
Yet, changing this narrative around evangelical Christianity is tough and it’s up to individuals to learn how to show kindness rather than display rigid intolerance for those who need to experience the love of Christ. It’s important that we ask ourselves Christ-followers how we are supposed to approach those with views different from our own.
First, we remember why God came down to Earth in the first place. John 3:16-17 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”
This verse is one of the most fundamental scriptures of the Christian faith because it shows God’s unwavering love for all humanity. “World” is used three times in these verses, emphasizing that God came for us all. Whosoever chooses to believe in God is welcomed into God’s great family!
This passage illustrates a key truth for Christians. Human beings come with a wide array of differences but as Christians, there is one fact that unifies us all: we are all loved by God. The Bible teaches that every person is created with value and purpose, and God wants us all to have a relationship with him.
While we often can become frustrated when others don’t see the world through the same lens we do, that is not God’s view. He sees every person as valuable and loved. When we approach those different from ourselves, we should view them as Christ does. God commands us to love others as he loves us in the Bible. John 13:34 says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” Believers are called to a very high standard, which requires us to embody the love of Christ with our words and deeds.
Colossians 3:12 says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” This is what the people of God should be defined by. What a beautiful picture of a people that exude grace and love! This should be what we strive for others to see in us when we approach those who are different from ourselves.
It can be hard to lay down our right to convince, judge, shout, or coerce but we can trust that showing love is enough because God tells us that he does the rest for us. His convicting, helping, and comforting Spirit brings people into his Kingdom. More than that, God covets the role of bringing justice. When it’s all said and done only God has the power to judge the hearts of men. We can surrender our right to judge because we know only one is wise enough to do that job for humanity. Romans 2 even reminds us that it’s God’s own kindness that leads us to repentance. We each need and desire grace from God and others in this world. As ambassadors of Christ, kindness is what we should bring to every table we get the chance to sit at.
Father, as we navigate the divisive culture we are living in, help us to remember the power of your kindness. May those who need you find you through your love embodied in us. Give us patience to hear our neighbor, no matter how different they may be then ourselves. Let us remember that listening to others is a gift and it’s also not giving up our beliefs, it's just a way to show love and respond with wisdom and grace when the opportunity arises. Open the ears and hearts of those around us to see the church in a new light, a light that shines on your truth, love, grace, and kindness. Thank you that you loved us so much that you died for us. Amen.
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Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. She has most recently published a devotional, Comfort: A 30 Day Devotional Exploring God's Heart of Love for Mommas. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.
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