I had the privilege of sitting down at a table with eleven other women for dinner yesterday evening, all of whom were gathered together for the express purpose of conversing about Judson’s book. I have engaged a couple other book club discussions about “Eyes that See” before, but yesterday was unique—it was unique because only one other woman, the hostess who had made the book selection, shared my worldview.
Yet, it was a gift. It was a gift to hear the hearts of these women from many walks of life, with diverse ethnic, socio-economic, and religious backgrounds share their very honest thoughts and feelings as they related to Judson, my journey of loss, and my faith. They didn’t hold back their questions, their differences, their curiosity, and even their frustrations. Though it was admittedly taxing and emotionally exhausting, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
But what was reaffirmed to me, as I heard their hearts, is the manner in which evangelical Christians are collectively known for their dogma and not necessarily their love. They are considered rigid, inflexible, unbending, and narrow. This stereotype grieves me. On one level I think it arises simply because we believe in absolutes within a culture that generally rejects such a notion; they view it as elitist, judgmental, and divisive which is naturally identified as contradictory to tolerance and love. On another level, some of the strongest public voices for Christianity that they see and hear are the extremes, those who may, in actuality, lack love and compassion, or are at least portrayed as such. So even if on a personal and relational level this is untrue, the perception is pejorative.
My greatest call is to love. I don’t ever want my theology or beliefs to trump that love. And it is actually love that compels me to want to share the Hope that has touched my life. But I am challenged to understand how to lovingly share my faith amidst a culture that already deems the act of doing so as un-loving.
I pray for a grace that so palpably characterizes my life that every expression of faith which touches my lips cannot help but be perceived as an expression of love to the world around me.