TC's Guidelines and Principles for Life #10: "God doesn't call us to change people, he calls us to love people." I was listening to Nadia Bolz-Weber the other day and she said something that impacted me. She said that, as a minister, she doesn't feel responsible for what people in her faith community believe. But she does feel incredibly responsible for what they hear coming from the pulpit.
In other words, she is only responsible for what she can actually control.
To share a similar concept from an entirely different realm, I head Tyson Chandler (center for the New York Knicks) share some advice he got early in his playing career: that some nights, his offense was just going to stink.
Some nights, the ball just won't go through the hoop, and there's nothing you're going to be able to do about it in that moment. But that there is no reason why his defense should ever have an off game. Because defense is about hustle - and that's a choice rather than luck.
We have been given freedom of choice by the God who created us.
We can choose to have faith and follow his calling in our lives, or to ignore it.
God shares, broadcasts, announces his love - through his scriptures; through his sacrifice in Jesus; through faith communities that are called by his name - and he allows us to decide if we will accept that love and allow it to change us.
Jesus, in his ministry, doesn't spend most of his time telling people to stop doing this or that, but instead pointing to what we miss out on if we neglect a relationship with God: love and peace and joy and community and true fulfillment, etc.
Why should our purpose be different?
Martin Luther King Jr said that hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.
Instead of finding things we hate about other people (which leads us to want to change them), let's instead find the areas we love about them and build community around that.
When we live in a place of sincere acceptance for others, we truly become agents of God's good news - that the God who made us and knows everything about us, loves us - and wants to help us become the version of ourselves that God intends for us. A person filled with love, peace, joy, etc.
You can't control people, but you can chose whether or not you will love them.
Like hustle on a basketball court, there's no reason why we can't love people in any given situation, because while what they do isn't in our control, how we respond to them is.
35@35 is a blog series by Thomas Christianson which involves 35 blog posts in 2014 on 35 things he has learned at the age of 35.