Just this morning I read multiple posts about the continuing story of the loss of Cincinnati Zoo gorilla, full of awful words and terrible accusations from all sides; I read about a group of a dozen men who felt the need to throw raw meat at people eating in a vegan restaurant (WHY?!?!); I read about a man who ran over two people on a motorcycle, on purpose, after exchanging heated words with them on the road; and all I could think was, “Thank you God that you offer grace.”
Our words should be laced with mercy, not judgment, for we of all people know what it is to experience mercy.
Our tone should be one of reconciliation and love, for we of all people know what it means to be reconciled.
Our comments should be kind and reveal that we are slow to anger because we of all people know that it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance and that He is slow to anger, abounding in compassion.
In the midst of vitriol, we should stand out as bright lights; we should look, feel, and be different than those who have not experience God’s immeasurable grace.
Which is why it pains me so much to see similar attitudes and sentiments shared by those who know the depth of His mercy as those who have not, and sometimes worse because the words are laced with self-righteous judgment and religious overtones. And that should not be; it simply should not be.
We should walk into every single situation with the humility and gratitude of those who have experienced such a profound love and grace, all of our actions and reactions filter through it and we cannot help but begin there with whatever we choose to say, do, or share.
“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Col. 4:6). Why? Because “gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones” (Pr. 16:24). They bring life, not death; hope, not despair; love, not hate. And that is important because “We are Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore [others] on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20).
We are on mission, all the time, to bring people towards Grace and Mercy, not shame them away.It’s our for-real, all-the-time, never-ending job; our identity.
So we should look different, sound different, and act different from those who are not identified with Christ. And yes, our kids are watching us, and yes, we are teaching the next generation with everything we do, but we are also called to be these things for one another and for a lost and hurting world. Let’s be light and love in a world of darkness and hate.Let’s live out what Paul implores us in Philippians, to shine among men like stars in the sky.
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life.
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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.