I want to be difference maker. I know you do too. As we navigate through this maze of life, with a passion for the Gospel of Jesus, we must tread with the strength and courage of a lion, while exhibiting grace and peace, like that of a lamb. We will require strength as we walk head on into places where the name of Jesus is trampled on, and we courageously say, “That is MY God.” We will certainly need the extra grace, as we encounter the broken who reject Christ, because they do not understand authentic love.
Sadly, we often leave the lamb behind and charge forward with a roar. We feel compelled to speak up, yet when we do so, we often leave no room for peace. Paul tells us in Romans (12:1), “If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone.” But, what does that look like for us, who are anxious to make a difference in the conflicted world around us?
Standing strong on the Gospel of Jesus does not mean we approach the debate podium with every opportunity that we are given. The Gospel of Jesus does not bid us to fight a fleshly battle, only to come away, both parties bruised and battered, yet no better for it. The way of Jesus does not lead us to be “right” or to bring down the gavel of condemnation.
“But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.” James 3:17-18
Often, the way of our Savior calls us to wisely walk past our side of the debate, to bring a glass of water to the opposing party. Often, we would be better off shredding our notes and lifting our eyes to see past the offending topic, and into the eyes of the person that Jesus loves. Then, and only then, can we truly be the hands and feet of Jesus.
When we read about the ministry of Jesus, we see him stoop down to look into the eyes of a prostitute, dine with a despised and corrupt tax-collector, answer the questions of a doubting religious leader, and the list goes on.This was His avenue for bringing light. Instead of telling the world that it is dark, we can be the defining light. We can be the hands and feet of Jesus. Our votes, our signs waved high, and our social media posts won’t do that. It all comes together under a banner of grace and love, only found through hearts turned heavenward, seeking to pull the scorched, aching hearts of this world, under the cool umbrella of Christ.
We don’t dare neglect our commission to share the good news, but we press into the hearts of people to do so. We proudly bear the name of Jesus, but we do so with gentleness and respect.
“…but honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame.” 1 Peter 3:15-16
No shouting or shunning is required to bring the good news to those who need it. Less debate and drama, more Jesus, please. To live at peace with those around us may require a heaping dose of humility and hearts surrendered. Our battle is not against flesh and blood, but it goes far deeper, beyond the reaches of this world (Eph. 6). Friends, let’s lay down our signs, and extend a hand. We can be firm in our convictions, without scarring people in the process. Seek out wisdom from above, gentleness and peace, and I believe you will be a difference maker.