I have a bumper sticker on my car that reads “Worship like catholics. Think like hippies. Episcopalians.” A few weeks ago, while getting gas, a man asked me if, after I worshiped like a catholic, I smoked marijuana – not exactly in those words. To him, hippies do drugs. This bumper sticker was the result of a conversation my teenage son was having a with a friend he invited to church. On the way to worship, he was trying to explain to her what to expect and finally just said, “basically, we worship like Catholics and think like hippies.” To my son, hippies represent love and acceptance. To him, our church is love and acceptance. And, we Episcopalians do worship like Roman Catholics, but the beliefs differ.
We all thought his explanation of the Episcopal Church was hilarious. When I shared this story on the Episcopalians on Facebook page, it was liked about 1,000 times and I started receiving private messages urging me to put it on t-shirts and bumper stickers. So, I did. (Link is below if you want some swag.)
I would bet you’ve seen “God is love” on bumper stickers and the like but I am not sure that all people believe that. There is much said and done in the name of God that is not loving. And it is more than a shame, it is tragic. Whenever I hear Christians speaking with judgment and disdain in their words, it breaks my heart. In my ministry, I have the honor of hearing the stories of people seeking God. They are looking for the followers of Jesus: …everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35 But so many more have just stopped looking because they don’t see Christians who love.
Where are the Christians that we can identify by the way they love? I hear too many whose conversation reflect a belief that following Jesus is about following rules. And if you don’t follow the rules, you are a sinner and unworthy of belonging in Christian community. Newsflash – we are all sinners and we all fall short. Jesus says over and over that we won’t be justified by following the law; in Galatians 5:4, Paul specifically says if you’re trying to do this, you have cut yourself off from Christ and fallen away from grace. After repeatedly being asked about the laws and rules, Jesus finally boiled it down to love God and love each other. Mic drop.
So, after a lifetime of trying to approach things in a logical manner, I am finally coming to understand the supreme importance of approaching all things with my heart. This is a struggle for me as I was rewarded in my business career by suppressing emotion and remaining analytical. And, as a person who struggles with depression, I question my motives since my mind can play tricks on my moods. However, I am seeing that living with our hearts is a matter of life and death.
People are suffering, physically and spiritually, due to our intellectual, dispassionate, and many times, judgmental mindsets. Where do your actions and opinions come from? Your head or your heart? And don’t get me wrong, when it comes to solving problems, we need your brains. But when we define a problem, when we take a stance, when we share our faith, is it Good News? Are your opinions rooted in compassion or doctrine? If the reason you talk, act, or vote a certain way is because you want people to follow the rules, then think again. I challenge you to examine your heart and ask yourself if viewpoints rooted in a right/wrong and black/white fulfill our commandment to love each other.
Do the rules you want in place prevent us from hurting each other or do they give us license to do so?
For Episco-Hippie bumper stickers, tshirts, and other merchandise, visit www.cafepress.com/evangelismninja