A couple of Friday nights ago, I hauled my three little bits up to the field for our big crosstown rivalry game. It was much-anticipated and brought a packed house. I was nervous for Clark and praying the kids were well-rested enough to survive the long night happily so that I could watch the whole game.
About halfway through the first quarter, a large herd of parents and their children sidestepped their way to the seats by us and shuffled around trying to get the whole posse situated. They were not being unkind or intrusive, but I was annoyed.
I just want to watch the game in peace, I kept thinking. I don’t need any more kids than I already have. I don’t want any commentary on the coaching decisions in my ear. Give me some space.
My immediate thought was to act aloof as to send the message: Do not talk to me. I am a coach’s wife. I just want to watch the game.
A few minutes into my annoyance, I started to feel a bit childish. A little ridiculous. And then a lot convicted.
We all have titles. Among others, mine are woman, mom, teacher, coach’s wife, American. But those are all secondary to my primary title: follower of Christ.
My secondary titles anchor me and make me feel important, empowered, accomplished, loved, successful. Unfortunately, because they are more tangible to me, they sneak into that primary position. And because my life is so consumed by those titles, the beliefs they bury deep within me coalesce with the truths God buried long before, until it’s hard to tell which is which.
Even the title of “Christian” can confuse my identity as a follower of Christ, because it has been so defined by a culture of tradition, religion, and separatism. “Christian” can mean many things to many people.
Imagine a big sieve. We will call that sieve “Christ.” Now, dump all your secondary titles into that sieve. Let it weed out all the ideas and beliefs that don’t align with His. Goodness, kindness, empathy, graciousness, patience will fall through and settle into our souls. Elitism, arrogance, self-importance, fear, discrimination will collect at the top.
That night, I’d forgotten my sieve. The self-importance I’d gleaned from my title as “Coach’s Wife” had tricked me into thinking I was right in being an asshole. I’d forgotten my primary title. My purpose on this earth is not to support my husband at a football game. My purpose is to give hope to a broken world.
In the last few days, we’ve forgotten our sieve. We’ve forgotten that before we claim the title of Democrat or Republican or American, we claim the mission of a Heavenly King.
In our arguing, disagreeing, despairing, wallowing, shaming (basically, in our asshole-ness) in the name of our secondary titles, are we upholding the purpose we were given through our primary title? Our mission is the same today as it was last week: seek out the lost, the broken, the voiceless and GIVE THEM HOPE.
And while some Christ-followers voted for the “least of these” in the form of an unborn child (who certainly falls into that category), there are a lot more sitting in the margins that are feeling neglected, targeted even, right now. We don’t get to pick and choose which ones we care about, which ones we will love, and which ones we won’t. We don’t get to decide whether or not their feelings are valid, for their feelings, their fears, are exactly that: theirs. We only get to decide how we respond.
My hope is that we don’t make THOSE “least of these” (as Jesus called them) feel small or unheard or unvalued because our political platform seems to oppose them.
Before we are Americans, before we are liberal, before we are conservative, we are followers of a God that tells us the SECOND MOST IMPORTANT THING IN LIFE is to love our neighbor as ourself. Please, let’s not lay that down on the altar of politics.
And any “truth” that comes out of our mouths (or keyboards) should be siphoned through a filter of respect, humility, and grace.
Truth should always be spoken out of a genuine aching to relieve a fellow human of the pain of walking a Christ-less path. Not out of a desire to prove someone wrong.
I get that people are feeling very Viva la Revolución right now — on both sides. But let’s not forget how the ultimate Revolutionary incited change and progress.
Inspiring chaos and fear is not Christ’s revolution.
Encouraging division and elitism is not Christ’s revolution.
Sparking discrimination and malice is not Christ’s revolution.
Christ’s revolution is one of
unprecedented, unorthodox, inconceivable, sacrificial
Sisters. Brothers. We don’t need to keep silent. But we do need to be slow to speak. Quick to listen. Pursuant of justice and relationships and showing love in Jesus’ name. And not just with those we agree with, but more importantly with those we don’t.
People fail to get along because they fear each other;
they fear each other because they don’t know each other;
they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.
Y’all go hug someone today. Preferably somebody that doesn’t look like you.