Dear Finger Pointing Christians…and everyone else for that matter

On May 24th a discussion broke out on my Facebook wall that continues to leave a bitter taste in my mouth. It stemmed from what I thought was a fairly safe question: “Is there any other issue besides homosexuality where Christians feel the need to clarify that we ‘hate the sin but love the sinner’? I mean, do you feel a need to make sure I know that while you love me you hate the way I spend my money? ‘Hey Bill, I want you to know that I love you but I absolutely hate your eating habits. It’s wrong, God hates it, and it’s important you hear this from me. I still love you, but your lifestyle utterly separates you from God. Sorry dude its important you’re aware I’m not condoning your lifestyle.’” Few actually ever addressed the question at hand and it eventually lead to me writing this blog that attempted to bring a different perspective to how we approach potential issues of right and wrong.

Today my mother shared with me a song that I found particularly poignant to the May 24th discussion.* I’ve posted the lyrics below:

Jesus, friend of sinners
We have strayed so far away
We cut down people in Your name
But the sword was never ours to swing
Jesus, friend of sinners
The truth’s become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You
But they’re tripping over me

Always looking around but never looking up
I’m so double minded
A plank-eyed saint with dirty hands
And a heart divided

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to the world
At the end our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Break our hearts for what breaks Yours

Jesus, friend of sinners
The One whose writing in the sand
Made the righteous turn away
And the stones fall from their hands
Help us to remember
We are all the least of these
Let the memory of Your mercy
Bring Your people to their knees

Nobody knows what we’re for
Only what we’re against
When we judge the wounded
What if we put down our signs
Crossed over the lines
And loved like You did

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to the world
At the end our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Break our hearts for what breaks Yours

You love every lost cause
You reach for the outcast
For the leper and the lame
They’re the reason that You came
Lord, I was that lost cause
And I was the outcast
But You died for sinners just like me
A grateful leper at Your feet

Cause You are good
You are good
And Your love endures forever

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to the world
At the end our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Break our hearts for what breaks Yours

And I was the lost cause
And I was the outcast
You died for sinners just like me
A grateful leper at Your feet

I don’t necessarily like the “us” and “them” mentality that most Contemporary Christian songs speak out of–including this song. There is, however, a reality that a Christ-follower has made a specific type of commitment to a certain story (namely the Jesus-story from the Bible) that invites them into a certain way of living. A certain way of living that suggests a certain level of accountability.**

So…

Dear Christian brothers and sisters my prayer is that you are moved by the words in this song. May all our hearts break for what breaks Jesus’, may we all be called out by our own pointed fingers, may all our hearts be lead by mercy, may we all be a “friend of sinners” not because they are so evil and different from us–no, for exactly the opposite reason–because they are exactly like us! Because we are all sinners, we’re all effed up, broken, and distorted images of our original created beings. We’re also, every single one of us, on a journey. So please, I beg you, don’t impede one persons journey because of your need to be right over and above being merciful–because in no way does that reflect our savior and the story that you have committed to live out.

If Jesus was willing to befriend you–and he has–then please be willing to befriend others regardless of their life choices, without demanding that they know whether you think they’re going to hell or not (your opinion does not matter!), and please please please extend the same gift Jesus has extended you: love, grace, and mercy regardless of your sinfulness and even…wait for it… preceding your repentance.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners Christ died for us” Romans 5:8

* If you would like to dig into my Facebook wall you can read the 103 comments. What was  hurtful to me was to see some Christians in this discussion and in a few others that sprouted on friends Facebook walls value proving themselves right over and above being people of grace and mercy. It was heartbreaking and I saw their need to be right hurt some that I care deeply about.

** Eww eww eww. I just used the word “accountability”. Please everybody take a moment and go throw up in a waste basket with me. That word has so lost valuable meaning for me as it’s come to denote a scene where everyone is miserable and feels like they should share their deepest darkest secrets in some sort of serious and grim fashion. The word just seems to fit here…so please forgive me for what I have done.

12 thoughts on “Dear Finger Pointing Christians…and everyone else for that matter

  1. it all reminds me of a line from the Acapella song "criminal on the cross." this line has been heavy on my heart for a while now… "on the judgement day when the people gather 'round Him and they wait to see what He will declare, there will never ever be a more intense anticipation that has ever happened anywhere. when they call *my* name to defend *my* reputation there is *only* one thing i can say… I'M A WRETCH. I'M A WORM. I'M A NO GOOD SINNER. BUT… *HE SAID HE'LL SAVE ME ANYWAY.*"

    thank you ryan. so much love for you.

  2. my dad used to say when you point a finger at someone, you have 3 fingers pointed at yourself. The only thing we have to do is love one another not judge one another. Thank you, Ryan, for your love and concern for others and for telling your story.

  3. Thanks Ryan for speaking to grace, love, and mercy instead of hate and/or judgement. It's people we are talking about…

  4. I agree with the whole, "us" and "them" labels. I hear it at church: "We would like to thank all the VISITORS for visiting US this morning." It is grating to me every time I hear it. As if church goers are somehow better than others. Or that "we" are in some special club. Yes, we are all sinners. And we are all created by God. Thanks for sharing the beautiful song!

  5. This was amazing and so well said. Thank you. We are all sinners, and not one of us is better than another. It's exactly that kind of finger pointing that drove me away from the church for a number of years. Again, thank you. (and I share your distaste for that word, accountability!)

  6. You are such an amazing, honest writer, I really enjoy reading your bolgs!
    As an active LDS woman it is often assumed that I hold certain opinions about certain topics. However I fully believe that EVERYONE is equal! EVERYONE deserves the same love, respect, kindness and rights as anyone else. When I see people standing outside city hall with picket signs saying God hates Gays I want to cry. We are told to not judge others yet that is what so many do when they tell others they are wrong and going to hell for their choices. I pray God will comfort those that are being protested against and they feel His love. Because He loves us all no matter what! Inspite of our sins, which we all have. I am proud to say I am also a member of Mormans building Bridges. A group who activly supports gay marriage. I pray someday we can all see the good in eachother, stop judging and love and accept eachother. help each other on our journeys. God is a loving God!
    Sorry for the rambling… Just a little passionate about this subject. Thank you for allowing me to say my opinion
    Kerri Spears

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  8. Dear Ryan ~ Don't have a comment on this post…just needed a way to connect with you and Jess and family. Just wanted to let you know that I heard about your struggle with cancer (through my daughter's facebook) and I wanted to let you know that I have been praying for you and Jessica (and your parents) ever since. I don't have any profound words to share, just love and tears and my prayers (added to the all of the other prayers that are before God on your behalf). If there is any comfort in knowing that another voice pleads for a miracle, then draw comfort knowing my voice has been added to the list. ~ Carrie

  9. Perfectly said, I wish so many more people could/would/should read your blog. Your post on "Sometimes it’s wrong to be right" truly changed my life, the way I looked at things and how I chose to respond to others. Thank you for taking time in the midst of your own struggles to help others like myself with theirs. You are an inspiration, a leader and an amazing child of God. You are in my prayers constantly – thank you for your gifts of blogging :)

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