My family is complicated, to say the least. My default position is love first, then conversations about our differences. Sometimes we can’t resolve differences of opinion, but “agree to disagree” on most issues makes peace. And that’s okay. I don’t expect everyone to always agree.
I have family members who run with the Proud Boys and others who lean to the left of Bernie Sanders. We are family, so there is grace. Well, at least as far as I can offer it.
Today, however, my stepbrother’s wife blocked me on social media. It’s not like we are close, but their family took amazingly loving care of my dad in his last days that I thought we had an important connection. When I got a message that she planned to block me, I was stunned.
My crime? My daughter (who is gay) posted a picture of my four-year-old granddaughter wearing a pride shirt and hat in a multi-photo post about their weekend. The other pictures were at a local pumpkin patch and at t-ball. I wasn’t even in any of the pictures!
This is the note she sent via Messenger:
No questions, no conversations, just a judgment based on a photo that I didn’t post and wasn’t even in!
The really sad part is that my stepbrother and his wife have never met my daughter nor her kids. Her decision to block me was based solely on one photo without question.
Not that it matters. I love my daughter. We disagree on a lot of things, but I have far more credibility as a Jesus follower in the way I love her (and her partner) than I would if I decided that her lifestyle was so offensive that I cut her off! That’s not love at all! Nor is it defaulting to grace.
I’m sad to lose that connection to my dad’s last days. But he loved that little girl, too, and he would be appalled by that response. My dad had a much bigger heart than that.
So, what is the lesson here? It’s not wrong to stand by your convictions, but to judge others without context or conversation is not the kind of love Jesus demonstrated. Nor is it the kind of grace he demonstrated to us.
I want to be the kind of Christian who loves first, dialogues with civility, and remembers that no one is righteous, especially me. I have no place to judge. I can hold my brothers and sisters in Christ accountable for how they walk out their faith, and I can strive to be worthy of God’s calling. Beyond that, it is the work of the Holy Spirit to convict and admonish and teach. I just tell the story:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:16).