The Best Critique of the Bad…
When was the last time you really wanted to tell someone off? Maybe it was about their driving. Maybe you couldn’t believe how someone could behave so badly at a sporting event, movie theatre, or concert. Perhaps you just knew someone’s post on social media was uninformed, radically biased, and inflammatory. If you can’t tell, then I’ll just go ahead and say there are lots of times I want to “let someone have a piece of my mind.”
I am someone who loves words. I believe it is part of why I am so drawn to writing, teaching, and preaching. Choosing a fitting word for the moment brings me lots of satisfaction. If you had recordings of conversations I have with people at coffee shops while I’m writing sermons, then you’d find out at least 33% of the time I’m asking them which phrasing or wording resonates with them more. You’d also see me pull out my thesaurus app on my phone about every half hour in search of a better word for my sermon. Words matter to me.
Yet I am continually reminded of the power of being. As a minister I have many friends who are eloquent speakers, and creative writers. I am at least equally blessed in number with friends who know how to live intentionally, simply, and passionately from their truest self in Christ. These friends don’t often dominate conversations or social media with lengthy diatribes or clever prose. Still their lives speak volumes. I recently found a photo of two very close friends who both epitomize this kind of raw authentic living. As I reflected on how much both of them mean to my life I sent them the following message…
“You’re both people who again and again inspire, encourage, and challenge me. Both in your words, but also by who you are and how you are in the world. Your love for other people is palpable, but can also be more reserved and focused than mine (which I greatly admire and look up to). Your creativity and intentionality to things you care about speaks deep into my soul. Seeing you both love something so intensely and purely inspires a love for similar things within me too. And honestly, when I’m around either of you, I feel so genuinely loved, cared for, welcomed, and embraced.”
In the first chapter of Thessalonians we find an appeal to the power of a well lived life. The followers of Jesus there did not merely talk a good game about their faith, but they also lived a in profoundly powerful and God-evidencing ways. Their adoption of the Jesus Way even in great hardships and suffering became a model to other struggling Christ followers everywhere. They didn’t rely on a slick public relations campaign or marketing strategy. What got them trending was the authenticity of their lives.
It has been said, “The best critique of the bad is the practice of the good.” Our airwaves and social media profiles are filled with so many of us behaving badly. It can be tempting to want to fight fire with the proverbial fire. Yet those Christ followers in the church of Thessalonians give point to another Way.
What would it look like for us to creatively consider how our example and actions can speak powerfully and positively for the transforming life, reconciling message, and humble spirit of Jesus the Messiah?
What if instead of adding to the noise of the season we began redemptively modeling the Jesus Way in our world?