Previously, I said I wanted to start being a S.A.F.E. Christian, meaning a Secure, Affectionate, Fighter for Everyone. To see that general overview, click here. Today, however, I want to focus on the first letter: S for Secure.
You can come to me without fear of judgment or gossip.
Right and Wrong
First, we have to get some terms down. What does the Bible mean when it says “Do not judge” in Matthew 7:1? It comes from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, where he gives instructions on how his followers should live. The full verse says, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (NIV) He goes on to say that we’ll be measured by the rod we use to measure others and that we are hypocrites if we call out a speck in someone’s eye when we have a plank in our own.
Jesus was talking about hypocrisy. Don’t call someone out for being imperfect unless you yourself are perfect. Deal with yourself before you deal with others.
So this doesn’t mean that Christians can’t say something is right or wrong. Jesus himself is in the middle of calling things right and wrong in this very sermon, and he calls out fakes and oppressors left and right. Jesus’s words and life make it very clear that there is right and wrong and that we have full permission to say so.
Jesus Reminds Us to Know Our Place
Who judges us at the end of our days? Jesus (Matthew 25:31-46; Revelation 20: 11-15). We can say what we want here, but he’s the ultimate judge. That means we judge as He would judge, with knowledge that none of us is righteous and only His blood makes us holy (John 14:6).
Therefore, we don’t write people off because of their sins. We don’t label them and put them on the other side of the fence. Jesus certainly didn’t. He knew that He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life, so he deliberately crossed fences in order to get to the people on the other side.
Translation: You don’t walk by a man and say, “Forget about him; he’s gay.”
You don’t scoff at Muslim registration and say, “Well, they’re just terrorists.”
You don’t wave off a woman’s complaints and say, “Why do they have to be so emotional? PMS much?”
This is the judgment Jesus warns us about. If we judge like this, then He will judge us right back. “That man may be gay, but you’re divorced. God hates divorce, so should I just write you off, too? The Muslims are terrorists, are they? Christians have slaughtered countless men and women throughout history, so I guess we should register them, too. That woman may be emotional, but men kill, rape, and destroy far more than woman. Should I discount you for your sex?”
It isn’t fun to be judged on only part of the story, is it?
Tolerance, Patience, and Love
Being Secure doesn’t mean I stay silent or wave my hand and say, “Oh, it’s all fine.” It doesn’t mean I can’t administer judgment in the sense of evaluating right and wrong. It means I remember I’m not perfect either. Jesus is my only redeeming feature.
This leaves me no choice (or desire) but to open my mind. To look upon sinners as humans who need to be brought in, not cast out.
Security means I won’t have my Bible in a holster ready to draw and fire on the count of three. I’m not waiting for you to confess a sin so I can say, “Ha! I knew it! Didn’t I tell you?” And I’m not going to fire off easy dismissals like, “Well, that’s what you get.”
Actually, here’s a shortlist of things I promise not to say–in word or deed.
- People like you go to Hell
- You don’t deserve anything less.
- God wants nothing to do with you.
- Get away from me.
- Go find Jesus, THEN come talk to me.
- Why should I care?
- You think YOU’VE got it bad, listen to MY problems…
- I can’t be seen with you.
- Shh, don’t talk about stuff like that!
Security means breaking down the religious walls–the things that keep US safe and focusing more on THEIR well-being.
What I DO Accept
I’ve established that you can come to me (or at least I want you to feel you can), but what does that mean? What’s the context?
Got a sin you need to confess? I’m all ears, no matter how vile and repulsive you think it is.
Got a question you’re afraid to ask? Don’t be. There are no wrong questions, just bad answers.
Got some anger to get off your chest? Let me hear it. We all have beef now and then, and you’ll feel better if you let it out.
Got an accusation to stab in my face? I can take it.
Do you use language and terminology I don’t prefer? I’m still listening.
Are your rights being violated? Tell me more. Honestly!
Are you scared of something happening in the world? Let me know so I can pray with you (at the very least).
Someone being oppressed by Christians? Yes, I’ll even listen to that.
Just want to chat, or possibly make a friend? Sure, let’s go for a walk or grab a bite.
Obviously, this isn’t a complete list. The point is that I have a metaphorical open door policy. Come on in, sit down, and talk to me, no matter who you are or what your issue is.
Silence is Golden
The other part of security is knowing that your secrets are safe with me. I’m sorry to admit that there are gossips in the church, and they rarely know it. Even I have said things to someone, then thought, Ooh, shouldn’t have said that. But I’m growing in awareness, and I promise I’m not asking you to talk to me just so I can turn around and say, “Did you hear about so-and-so? What a freak!”
Some Christians call this “group prayer.” “I think we should all pray for Paul because he’s been cheating on his wife with his male secretary while doing coke lines on his chest. He needs Jesus.” Unless it’s public knowledge or you give me permission, your secret will be safe with me to the best of my ability.
HOWEVER, there is one exception: if you or someone else is in danger. When life and limb are on the line, I have a moral obligation to save them, even if it means sharing secrets. There are also some laws that require me to go forward with certain information. So if you’ve been talking about suicide and then you suddenly disappear, I’m going to tell your spouse, your parents, the cops, anyone I must to find you before you do something you won’t have the luxury of regretting.
I keep secrets to protect, but if breaking them is the more protective choice, I must do so.
Grace for you, Grace for me.
The whole point is grace, the idea that you don’t have to get your whole life together before you can come to God, and therefore me if I call myself His follower. I only ask that you have grace for me, too.
As I said, I’m not perfect. In fact, I’m pretty good at messing things up. I have mood swings and bad days which shatter my tolerance and patience. I want to be available to everyone, but I also need healthy boundaries. I’m also a human, not a wall. I have my opinions and beliefs, and I will talk about them, which you may not like.
I may also be ignorant. I don’t have your life or perspective, so I might miss something. Fill me in and help me out so that I can grow and learn better tact and understand you more.
I’m trying, honestly.
The Big Idea
I want you to feel safe around me. That you can be yourself, even if that’s not who the Bible says you should be. To be honest. To know that I care. So I promise to do my best to be a secure person, to open my heart, arms, and mind. My dream is that the world could run to Christians for absolutely anything and not be thrown out the door or ostracized automatically. That’s not what Jesus does, and I want to be like Him.
If this sounds good to you, my contact info is at the top of this blog.
And if you’re a Christian reading this, I pray that you, too, will make yourself Secure for people of the world.
NEXT TIME: A for Affectionate.