I have a seven year old son who gets easily distracted going from point A to point B. We ask him to go from one room to another to get on his shoes and find him sitting next to his shoes playing with his Legos. Like him, we get easily distracted. We chase after things we weren’t meant to pursue. Some shiny, attractive thing gets our attention, and the next thing we know, we are off track.
The mission of the church is pretty simple and clear: Worship, Word, & Witness. But we make it about so many other shiny, distracting things.
Do you know the difference between ‘attractive’ and ‘appealing’? Attractive things hook us by their external qualities — how they look to us. Appealing things draw us by their inner qualities — real stuff of goodness and wholeness.
Cheesecake is attractive; a banana is appealing.
Skin-deep beauty is attractive; a gentle & quiet spirit is appealing.
Attractive things get the attention of our flesh; appealing things get the attention of our heart and spirit.
In the same way, there’s a big difference between an attractive witness and an appealing witness. Jesus, in John 17, was praying to the Father that his followers would have an appealing witness. [Check out verse 23]. What appeals? Our unity. You know what else appeals? Our love. [John 13:34-35].
What is so appealing about love and unity? Because there’s so much of the other around us. There’s no getting around it: our nation is deeply divided. There is an erosion of community, and our social connectedness is fraying. People are eating each other alive, and the rest of us are looking on like we’re watching a cock fight in a back alley. Is the church going to jump into the fray? Are we, too, going to grab our megaphones and add to the noise? If we do, I guarantee it won’t be long before we turn those megaphones on one another. If the church divides itself along the same lines as our culture, we are more like our culture and less like Jesus.
Jesus said in Matthew 24:12 that because of the increase of wickedness on the earth, the love of most would grow cold. Paul said people would become lovers of themselves. When we choose ourselves (and what we find attractive) over consideration for Jesus and his Church, our witness is compromised. Some of us may be a greater witness for our political party than we are Jesus.
How we stay together and love one another is our witness to the power of Christ at work among us! The light of Jesus genuinely working within us will lead us toward unity, not a false unity that causes people who really hate each other pretend to get along or a unity that comes by forcing compliance on one another. I’m talking about oneness with Jesus, just like Jesus is one with the Father.
The light of Jesus genuinely working within us will lead us to love — to love, not tolerate; to love, not make nice; but to love with a love that looks like Jesus.
We must choose this kind of witness. Our nation needs this kind of witness now more than ever.
Consider it, please.