Some songs make me cringe.
It’s not necessarily the lyrics—although cringe-worthy lyrics abound. Often it’s the style of singing or instrumentation. Sometimes it’s an associated memory. For instance, whenever I hear Andy Williams’ voice belt out, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” I can’t help but groan inwardly. I associate it with disgruntled black friday shoppers and unhappy ugly-Christmas-sweater people. I don’t know why…. it’s probably related to some lame commercial. Then there’s Burt Bacharach’s “What the World Needs Now.” The words aren’t bad, it’s just the way it was sung or the melody or… something. Think “nails on chalk.”
As I have been listening to and reading all the jubilant and sorrowful responses since Wednesday November ninth, that Bacharach song popped into my head unexpectedly. Yes, the world could definitely use some love between people. However, there is something the world needs far more than common “love.”
What the world needs now is for Christians to behave like Christ.
Let that sink in for a second.
Did Christ walk around telling people Caesar was better than Herod or that Pilate would make a better governor than the other guy?
When Jesus silenced the Pharisees with a particularly incisive question, did he gloat over his sharp wisdom?
Did Jesus whine and cry when there was a change in rulership?
When Jesus suffered on the cross in indescribably agony, was he raining down curses on the Roman guards?
Things that make you go hmmm…
Over the past few days, more than a few people have confided to me their disgust over Christian responses to our election. The gloating. The ugliness. The disdain for Hillary or third-party supporters. The “I-can’t-go-to-class-because-of-Trump-trauma” nonsense.
Their disgust is justified.
My very dear friends and readers, my heart weighs heavy with sadness that something such as this election—so important at this moment, but so minimal in the scope of eternity—has brought out such behavior in my fellow Christians.
If I have learned anything from voting in the previous four presidential elections it is this: your candidate will always disappoint you; and the opposing candidate will always disappoint their people. “Don’t put your faith in princes,” as the psalmist says…
What the world needs now—what the world has always needed—is for Christians to behave like Christ.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
~ Philippians 2.3-8, ESV
Notice some significant terms here:
selfish. ambition. conceit. Negative words. This is NOT how we ought to be.
emptied. servant. humbled. obedient. Positive words. The way Christ lived. They way we ought to live.
Gloating is the antithesis of humility. Disdain reflects pride. Jesus did not consider us with disdain. He did not call ten thousand angels to destroy the world, as he could have. He suffered humiliation and died willingly to save us. He did not tell his apostles to take a hike whenever their fumbled in their misunderstanding. He washed their feet, he pulled them out of the ocean. He extended mercy to a samaritan woman. He saved an adulteress. He was just, but took no joy in exacting justice. He wept over Jerusalem and the hard-hearted Scribes, Pharisees, and Elders. Jesus, in spite of being the son of GOD, embodied humility. How odd! How completely unfathomable!
The world doesn’t need us to look down on it with loathing. It needs us to behave like Jesus.
“What does the Lord require of you,” Micah writes, “but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6.8)
We take the justice part pretty seriously with others, but mercy and humility are often forgotten. Don’t forget them! Remember, we deserved justice, but Christ gave us grace.
We are going to be hated for following Christ. We are going to be hated when we take a stand for truth and justice. It’s inevitable. Let’s be hated for the being Christ-like, not for imitating the world.
Paul wrote the following to the Colossians Christians, and it ought to be our mindset today:
Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt,so that you may know how to answer everyone.
~ Colossians 4.5-6, NIV
“Outsiders” in this text refers to non-believers. Are we being wise in the way we act towards outsiders? Are we guarding our speech (and our keyboards)? Are we being careful with our Tweets and Facebook posts? Are we reflecting Christ or the world? Is political victory of greater importance than the soul of a non-believer?
What the world needs now, as always, is for Christians to shine the light of Christ. They don’t need to hear that we are politically right, they need us to be kind. They don’t need government intervention, they need us to be good neighbors. They don’t need circumstantial gloating, they need to see our unquenchable joy through Christ. The only way the lost will come to Christ is if they see his love through us.
We are the only Bible
The careless world will read;
We are the sinners gospel,
We are the scoffer’s creed;
We are the Lord’s last message,
Given in deed and word;
What if the type is crooked?
What if the print is blurred?
What if our hands are busy
With other work than His?
What if our feet are walking
Where sin’s allurement is?
What if our tongues are speaking
Of things His lips would spurn?
How can we hope to help Him
And hasten His return?
~Annie Johnson Flint~
Is the type crooked in our lives? Are our hands busy with other work than his? Let’s be what the world truly needs: let’s be the light of Jesus in this dark world.