I was walking to Burger King recently with a Christian friend when he started to talk me through his beliefs on homosexuality. Now, I’m not against a theological discussion now and then, but before I knew it I’d been hoisted into a devastating situation for my belly. I was so hungry I couldn’t focus on the points he was making. So I tried walking faster, but that didn’t work, he still kept going. I paused to ask someone for directions, but my friend knew exactly where he left off and kept the discussion going. Nothing friendly would stop him – but I suppose that’s freedom of speech… Even if that ‘speech’ wasn’t particularly of interest to me in that moment.
Having just ordered our food he turned to me and asked “what are your beliefs on abortion, euthanasia and war and peace”. Not the normal sort of conversation you have over a cheeky burger. Once I’d had a bit of time to think, I slowly and carefully shared my thoughts saying “you know what? I think Christians can sometimes get so hung up on these sorts of issues that we forget why we’re here; to make disciples of all nations. We could talk all night about these issues but whether we’d grow, I’m not so sure.”
A few minutes later a homeless man walked in and asked us for some money. So, like ‘nice’ Christians, we gave him some money and expected him to be on his way. But instead, he stayed to tell us about his type-two diabetes, his divorce from his wife, how his 3 children have disowned him and how he lost his job. We could never leave this man without telling him about Jesus, so we mentioned that we were Christians and asked him if we could pray for him. He accepted, we all sat and prayed together in the middle of Burger King. A few minutes in, I asked if anything was happening when the man replied “I feel hands on my ears and waves of healing going through my body… Before, I was not sure whether God existed, but now I know, now I know.”
That evening God spoke to both of us about the importance of loving; it was as if He sent this guy to interrupt our conversation and teach us a lesson about what we’re missing. God had already opened that door in his life and was inviting us to reap what had been sown. A question started to stir in my heart, ‘is being the gospel as important as sharing the gospel?’
Christians in our country are infamous for controversies over issues such as gay marriage and women in leadership, but why aren’t we infamous for loving?
Christians in our country are infamous for controversies over issues such as gay marriage and women in leadership, but why aren’t we infamous for loving? I use the word ‘infamous’ in this context because love is outrageous. Jesus was crucified because of love whilst 11 of the 12 disciples were martyred for the gospel. I don’t deny that these important issues need to be spoken about, but it shouldn’t dominate our faith as much as it has been recently.
The persecuted church in North Korea is such a powerful example of a people who have nothing left but love. They are voiceless, but they don’t need their voices to love. Having freedom of speech is a God given gift, an added extra to the only thing that the church needs; love. So let’s not abuse our voice; let’s not forget our brothers and sisters who are voiceless, faceless and nameless to the world. Let’s accept our calling to speak up for these people across the world and campaign for their freedom to love, whilst we go and make disciples of all nations ourselves.
Let’s not speak RELIGION or get distracted by the DOs and DON’Ts of Christianity. Let’s be OUTRAGEOUS. Let’s LOVE.