“When?” The whisper in my soul is louder than a jet plane. For weeks I have been irritated — no, beyond that — I have been deeply disturbed by how much hate I see in the name of love. And not just from the world; from those who claim to be followers of Jesus — the one who said His people would be known by their love. I have even felt traces of this sentiment in my own heart. I want to see change, but I’ve wondered what can be done. We are afraid. Living in the middle of a seismic culture shift, we are afraid that the ground is disappearing beneath our feet, and so we are grasping at anything that will maintain our fantasy that this nation is somehow still Christian.
Again I heard it. “When?” When what? I see marches and protests in the name of everything anti-Christian on TV. When will all this be over? When will Jesus’ kingdom come and true peace be experienced under His perfect rule? This cultural earthquake is part of the groaning that I feel, groaning for the creation to be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
But the question goes deeper than that. It is personal. When will I? When will I what? What could I do anyway? I didn’t know. So I did what I sometimes do when I have a question I can’t answer but I’m feeling too lazy to think through it. I ignored it and got on Facebook.
How many more articles did I see outlining everyone’s opinion on women’s rights, the refugee crisis, abortion, politics… you know what I mean. I have no idea. But I do know that in the middle of my frustration, the answer started to dawn on me.
When will I let my desire for change change me?
Then the answers in the form of questions flooded me so fast that I could hardly keep up.
When will I personally choose to not be afraid but to courageously love the person who seems to be threatening me? When will the Gospel take priority over my comfort? When will my heavenly citizenship take priority over my earthly one?
When will I care more about the person sitting across from me than I do about the rights I think I deserve? When will I audaciously fight for the Biblical rights that person should have no matter the effect on my own?
When am I going to look into the eyes of the desperate refugee, and see a person rather than a stereotype? What about the illegal immigrant, my LGBT friends, my Muslim neighbor, the unwed pregnant girl, her unborn child? When will I refuse to jump on a bandwagon shouting “Black Lives Matter” or even “All Lives Matter,” and instead look a person in the eyes and say “Friend, YOUR LIFE MATTERS. You matter, because you are loved by God. You are important, and I love you.” Because the truth is, often our rhetoric is just a socially beneficial way of saying “my life matters.” And our lives in service to Christ have never been about us.
When will I relinquish my “right” to be well thought of? When will I love people by speaking the truth even if I am misrepresented as a bigot or a homophobe or a culturally-irrelevant, Bible-thumping zealot?
When will I step back from the hate and the mockery, and find the true Gospel love that popular culture cannot comprehend? When will I realize that love cannot be sacrificed on the altar of conviction, and that I must do the work to hold the two in tension? When will I realize that our freedom cannot be maintained by denying freedom to others, and that we will be most hopeful when we are a beacon of hope to the world?
When will I, like Jesus, lay down my life for others, rather than grasping for it as it slips through my fingers?
When will I realize that a culture shift starts with one person choosing to make the right decision and inspiring everyone around them to do the same?
When will I realize that I am the only person whose actions I can control, and that the change has to start within me before it can ripple out?
The time is now. You and I are the next generation. It starts with us. Love, freedom, truth, grace, and evangelism in this generation start with us. We will live in fear until we learn to love freely out of our titanium confidence in God’s secure hold of us. Perfect love casts out fear.
When? When will I?
When will you?