My heart is heavy. This blog was never intended to be a place where I brought my personal concerns. Its intent from the beginning was to encourage the Church in its ministry to children, families and the corporate body and to help equip and resource parents/caregivers as they disciple their children at home. I never viewed it as a place to share my own opinions on society, politics, or world affairs.
But my worlds have collided.
Because, even as I have blogged about in the past, there is no neat and tidy division of sacred and secular, in spite of how we often live. There are no neat little lines that keep our spiritual walk from spilling over into our physical world. To the contrary, we are Christians, everywhere, all the time. As members of Christ’s body, as His ambassadors on earth, as His light in this world, His witness in the present, we don’t get to take time off, leave the calling at church, or decide we can take a break from being a believer. It just doesn’t work that way.
And because of that, and because my heart breaks for the generation that we are currently raising, and because I can no longer remain silent as I see what is happening on social media, on television, and in conversations, I feel I must share this simple reminder.
One day, your child will google you.
They will plug your name into a search engine and read what you have written, tweeted, blogged, and commented. Your “social” footprint will leave a legacy that they will one day find. Mine will too. That’s a big reason why I am writing this today.
Because I want to be acutely aware of what I am leaving for them to find. I want to measure my words in a way that proclaims love and not hate, trust and not fear, grace and not judgment, hope and not despair. I want them to see that in times of uncertainty, I didn’t turn on my fellow man, but I loved that as God so loved the world and gave.
I’m not saying you have to agree with me politically or even socially. But if we are believers, Christians, disciples of Jesus Christ and the reflection of His love here on earth, than we do have to agree with Him. Our lives should not be dualistic. It shouldn’t be difficult for others to see similarities between us and Jesus.
The same Jesus who said, “Love your enemy. Do good to those that hate you.” Or as The Message puts it…
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.
48 “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”
The rhetoric I am hearing today from candidates like Donald Trump and leaders like Jerry Falwell Jr. does not sound like this. The hate-filled, fear-filled, shame-filled posts on social media do not sound like this. The cheering that takes place when things like waterboarding, torture, exile, killing, death and discrimination doesn’t sound like this. It doesn’t sound like this at all.
And while I am only adding my voice to the voice of many others who are denouncing the hateful words being said by leaders both in the church and outside of the church, I am choosing to add it for one main reason.
Because of my kids. Because they are watching.
Because one day, they will look me up to see what I did when these words of hate and fear were declared. Did I cheer? Or did I mourn? Did I shame others publicly? Or did I love others graciously? Did I ridicule those I disagree with and make fun of them and belittle them in front of everyone or did I pray for them and honor them as those made in God’s image and loved by Him? Did I live out my God-created identity in a way that pointed everyone to Jesus?
I want to look back at what I have said, I have shared, and I have stood for and know that when my son or daughters read it one day, it will point them to Jesus. Let us not confuse pietism with patriotism; they are not the same. We are called to disciple the next generation in our faith, to create followers of Christ, not patriots of a country or cause. What legacy are we leaving for them about what and who we are as believers?
As I shared in a blog post once before, we need to consider deeply what we say and do online.
Before we say, post, do, or act… let’s stop first and consider, “What am I teaching my child through this?” And then react in the way you hope that they will react when they are faced with challenging and confusing situations. Because they really are watching you and learning what it means to be a Christian in the everyday.
For more information about
- Kids in Worship
- Determining which Type of Family Ministry model works best for your church
- Encouraging the continued conversation through Practical Discipleship at Home
- And much more!
About the author
Christina Embree is wife to Pastor Luke, mom to three wonderful kids, and family minister at Nicholasville UMC. She is passionate about seeing churches partnering with families to encourage faith formation at home and equipping parents to disciple their kids in the faith. Currently studying Family, Youth and Children’s Ministry at Wesley Seminary, she also blogs at www.refocusministry.org and is a contributing blogger at D6 Family, Seedbed, and ChildrensMinistryBlog.com.