Less Than. Not Equal To.


My Facebook feed is an interesting place.

It's full of conservatives and liberals and odd folks like me who have ideas about things that are all over the map.

And pastors and church leaders.

I have lots of Facebook friends who are pastors and church leaders (although I may have a few less after this post), and I used to love engaging my colleagues in all sorts of interesting conversations---most of which would devolve into theological disagreements and even carefully worded insults and digs.

How very Christian of us.

Then I heard a pastor that I really admire say something that has changed the way that I interact with people on social media.  Since this pastor has successfully grown his church from like 12 people to over 40,000 in a little over fifteen years, and is literally one of the smartest leaders I know... I listen to what he has to say when he talks about leadership, and specifically leadership in the church.

This is what he said:

"Don't lose your chance to make a difference, just to make a point."  

That one sentence has caused me to delete a hundred or more Facebook posts that I wrote, a score ofTwitter updates I almost sent and at least a couple dozen blog posts that almost got published.

So I've noticed something popping up on my Facebook feed tonight.  Maybe you have to.  It looks something like this:

This symbol means that the person posting it on their site supports marriage equality for all people---gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, etc.

For some of my friends, posting this on their Facebook feed was difficult to do because they knew it would make some of their friends angry, and they might choose to end their friendship over it.

And I am sure there are some who posted it to be trendy, cool, hip, open, tolerant... they have their reasons, I am sure.  Some of these folks are pastors and church leaders who want to make sure they are identified a certain way.

There will be other friends of mine---pastors and church leaders---who will respond by posting something as a protest for this other thing.  A way to make sure that everyone knows they are against it.  Some of them will do this because their congregations expect it, and others will do it because they don't know what else to do.

I'm speaking here to pastors and church leaders, and I am using the same sort of wisdom that I received---wisdom that has governed my social media speech with way more salt than it used to be.  I'm speaking to both my conservative and progressive brothers and sisters here...

Don't lose your chance to make a difference, just to make a point.  

For all the church members who will applaud and support whatever you post on your FB feed---there will be some who will be wounded by it.

For all the many people you think who will be won over by the stand you have taken, there will be more than a few who will be turned away.

Listen.  I am not offering this in a sanctimonious way.  I offer it as one who has been guilty of throwing social media stones, arguing, sowing discord... you name it.  And it does nothing to further the kingdom of God.

Nothing.

I offer this little graphic that I came up with tonight as an alternative to pastors and church leaders who want their congregations to know where they stand on the deeply dividing issues in our culture:

It's my "Less Than" graphic.  As in whatever I think, whatever I say, whatever I am---is less than Christ, who I do my best serve with all my heart in my own brokenness and frailty.

I don't always do that very well.  I make mistakes, and I let people down.  I sometimes say and do things unintentionally (and sometimes intentionally, I admit) that keep people from seeing Jesus as well as they might.

Because they are too busy being distracted by my efforts to elevate myself, my causes, my desire to be liked, my beliefs, etc., higher than Christ.  They are not... I am not... greater than Christ.

I am less than.

And so my little graphic can serve as a constant reminder that I if I ever forget this---I could very well lose my chance to make a difference in Jesus' name because I was too busy making a point in my own.

That church you serve... it's not your church.  It's not your ministry, it's Christ's.

At this point the progressive folks will get wounded and tell me that no great social change ever happened without making a point.

At this point he conservatives will get wounded and tell me that Christianity will go to hell and a handbasket if a point is not made to counter the other point.

Those are both probably good points.

But perhaps... so is mine.  Maybe the reason why so many people are leaving our churches in droves and never coming back is because we were always trying to make good points, and we never really made a difference---at least one that mattered enough for them to stay.

At any rate... feel free to steal my graphic.  Or not.

Then click anywhere right here and read this blog that I read today and it rocked my world.  From someone who has reason to be bitter over being marginalized and "othered," Carlos Whitakker does a masterful job of subtly demonstrating why making a difference is so much bigger and transformative than making a point.

Less than, people.  Less than.

Comments

  1. Thanks man. I'm so arrogant, I thought I was doing you a favor by reading your blog on a busy day - and what do you know, you wrote exactly what I needed to read today. I owe you lunch, or at least a cup of coffee. Thanks.

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  2. Excellent post, Leon. My wife, Rebekah, said something similar when she quoted Hebrews 13 the other day: "Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many."
    Good job "not falling short of the grace of God." - DEREK

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  3. Thank you for this. I live and serve in China, so I miss a lot of the hoopla back across the ocean. While I still don't know what caused the uproar yesterday, my Facebook newsfeed was enough for me to get the main gist: divider time again. I turned to my husband and asked him something like: "What do you think today would have been like if I'd donned my 'Jesus is champ!' or 'I'm right/you're wrong' t-shirt while hanging out with [two of my Muslim university students] instead of going to sing karaoke with them?" Do I believe both of those sentiments? Well, sure. He is champion, and for me to believe I am right, I have to believe (in this instance) they are not. There are so many ways I can make sure they know this and at the same time ensure I never have another opportunity to speak Truth to them. Is that what I want?
    My convictions do not change; my votes do not change. There are times to take a stand; there are times to "choose a team." I'm just not sure anyone has changed anyone else's mind over a FB profile status although they may have alienated a few friends from wanting to "do life" with them.
    Honestly, my first thought at the "less than" before reading your explanation was that homosexuals were less than traditional marriage supporters, but knowing the person who shared the link made me think perhaps the intent was something different!

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  4. “He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:30

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  5. God’s perspective on things
    Greater than – Equal to and Lesser than

    Having a proper perspective in these relational equities helps us form a biblical world view and not be blown around by the winds of social media and societal devolution.

    To live without such is indeed pointless and will neither make a difference nor a point.

    To live one’s life with the lesser than (humble) world view is laudable, but there are things in this world system that are to be avoided because they are less than the spiritual living standard of a Child of God.
    One such avoidance is being unequally yoked or bound to unbelievers, (I Cor. 6:14).

    This brings us to the socially sensitive subject of marriage. Paul’s comments were to a group of carnal (fleshly and fleshy) believers. They were either so caught up in the socially acceptable belief system of accepting all types of marriage; including marriages between a man and his mother or step-mother, but also those outside the ‘faith’.

    This is an example of something, which is ‘Less than’ God’s best and sin if violated.

    So how does this apply to same-sex marriages? Simple. God’s law singles out whoremongers and those who defile themselves with mankind as those whose lifestyles are condemned and must be avoided, (I Tim. 1:10).

    He clarifies his judicial opinion in Romans 1:26-32, by stating; “God gave them over to shameful lusts, for even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way, the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. Furthermore…God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they did what ought not to be done…”

    So what should our relationship be to those who have fallen into the snare of the devil and are caught up in such sin?

    Jude points us in the right direction, saying; “And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” Jude 1:22-24 KJV.

    Yes, we are charged with making a difference upon our ever-changing society. Nevertheless, to do so without making a point is pointless.

    There is a life-style that is condemned according to Jude 1:15-19. They are not to be left in their sin and definitely not to be made equal in style or standard to the Believer.

    It is time we stop coddling and kowtowing to society and make a difference by making a point.

    The point is, Jesus can save and deliver us from whatever snare Satan has caught us in, whether it is overeating, covetousness or homosexuality.

    So let’s make a difference…point sinners to the Resurrected Savior.

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  6. Bryan, I actually was making a point (by advocating for not making one), and you basically just proved it. I guess your last line sums it up for me. There's not much self reflection in that statement, but it is congruent with the worldview I grew up with as a Fundamentalist Baptist. "Sinners" are always other people in that worldview. And I can assure you that none of them are seeing the Resurrected Savior through proof texting, doctrinal beliefs and principles of works righteousness.

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  7. Thanks for your post. I appreciated reading it and it's a good reminder of who we are in comparison to Christ.

    http://thewordfromB.typepad.com

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