“Okay, children, get along!”
A family member shared great advice when her children were very young. “Be specific. Saying something like ‘Be careful,’ to children isn’t helpful. Clear directives work best.”
She used examples including, “Don’t play on these rocks,” and “Take one step at a time.”
Her back may still tighten if she heard, “Okay, children, get along!”
I was invited to write a column this week about how Christians should get along with those who identify as non-Christians. This request came from last week’s column. I touched on humanitarianism. An insightful reader shared her opinion: Christians don’t always like it when non-Christians do kindhearted, charitable acts for others. She inferred there could be a rift between the those following Jesus and those following their heart.
There shouldn’t be a distance or divide between these two, but let’s do a full stop for a moment. Is there a distance between these two? Are Christians even somewhat standoffish to those who do not profess to Jesus Christ as their Savior yet do such great love, goodness, and kindness in the world?
First things first. A Christian should be aligned with humanitarianism, at least ideally. A humanitarian, however, does not have to be Christian.
A Christian’s identity is in Christ. Great love, goodness and kindness align with following Christ’s teaching. But do Christians exclude non-Christians who practice these same ideals?
I pray Christians and non-Christians do more than coexist. I pray the two do what I see they have done (and still do), which is partner with each other, learn from each other, and resource with each other so that great love, goodness, and kindness continue to be shared in the world.
Dear children, does there need to be a line or a divide?
To a Christian, it’s clear. Love all. This includes loving enemies and those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27-36).
I John 4:7 adds a layer. The NIV reads, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.”
I locate myself as a bridgebuilder. I experience God as One who is always at work in the hearts and minds of His children—even when His children don’t recognize (yet) that they are, indeed, His children.
Will every humanitarian become Christian? I’m not going to answer. Instead, I say I trust God will continue to do what God does, and that’s create opportunities to find and seek out His will, regardless of whatever location we do or do not place on ourselves.
Here’s the bottom line. Christianity isn’t perfect because Christians aren’t perfect. If someone wants to find fault or failure with how Christianity has been or is being practiced, there’s plenty out there to create a distance I don’t feel is necessary or even beneficial.
But let’s bridge build. Let’s do this. Where, how, or even if you recognize God at work is a luxury conversation when work in the trenches isn’t now and then. It’s every day. Draw a divide if you’re angry, miffed, bored, or against Christian institutionalism. But love. Specifically, do great love, goodness and kindness without snipes, snarls, sarcasm, or any sinking thought based on an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality. Hungry, hurt, and homeless people are in the world. Listen well to Jesus in the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Hungry, hurt, and homeless people need care.
Dear children, regardless of who you are or how you identify yourself, don’t be childish. Get along. The work to be done is not in debates or divides. The work to be done is humanitarian, the care of others.