Being Christian by example

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O P I N I O N


Lead and Love by Example. Photo Credit Christian Nestell Bovee


Screen Shot 2015 11 013A Divided World

The world that we live in is very divided (not that I have to tell readers this). I personally do not remember ever being as divided as we are now. We always had two sides politically, or rather levels of each side, but nevertheless we would often say, “Oh they are liberal” or “they are conservative.” 

Being Republican meant that you’re for big business, hate taxes, want religion everywhere, and believe that everyone has to pick themselves up by their bootstraps – without any assistance. Oh yeah, and wanting to get rid of or privatize Social Security. Being a Democrat meant that you’re for the little guy so want free healthcare and free college, were okay with high taxes, (especially on the rich fat cats and Wall Street powerbrokers), think that abortion on demand as well as partial birth abortion is a woman’s right, and that we need to keep religion out of the public square. Oh yeah, and loved spending money. In reality, however, most people are closer to the middle with many of these issues. But no matter what we thought, we could engage in healthy debate without being shut down, censored, or called all kinds of names that only became part of our everyday lexicon within the past five to ten years. 

People Divided Photo Brian Chicoine collection. COVER PHOTOToday we are just divided. If I do not agree with you then I’m {insert name here}. Some say that we act like children. I disagree…in my experience, children do not naturally hate and usually do not learn that nasty trait until they are older. Little children (aka “littles”) simply love…they look past a person’s outward appearance or socioeconomic position and just want to be kids and play or whatnot, (probably “game” since that is what kids do these days). 

I not only see this division in politics – which in many cases is promoted by our elected leaders…just sad – but I also see division in the workplace, within families, and even in Christian circles. Before I go on, I want to note that I’ve long been told that I shouldn’t bring Christianity into the public square. My response is “why not?” After all, Christianity is already in the public square – and is vastly misrepresented. (Besides, people need to be made uncomfortable once in a while. This often leads to great discussions. In today’s world though, it will likely fill the comment section – and my email – with name-calling. But I know the risks. 🙂).   

Division can lead to riots Photo from Brian Chicoine collectionDivided Christians 

It is sad, and rather annoying to me, when I see other Christ-followers (aka Christians) speaking out against people or behaviors in a hateful way (especially when this is done to other Christians). I’m not saying that Jesus condones all behaviors or lifestyles, but He never promoted or participated in hate – He did not condemn. In fact, He often rebuked the religious leaders of His day because of the way that they treated people. (They looked down on people because they thought that they were better than them and were not “sinners.” I’m sure that we all know someone with a “holier than thou” attitude). None of us are perfect…none of us. So instead of pointing out the flaws of who we see as our adversary, we should look in the mirror.

Christian example of Unity 

I have been studying the life of Jesus for over twenty years now and have to say that He would not be acting – or is He calling others to act – in a hateful or violent way against people that He may not agree with. Jesus called out acts and behaviors that He did not agree with, but He did it out of love and understood that we are people, often far separated from God. Jesus didn’t mince words, but He treated everyone with love and respect. (He did get annoyed with the religious leaders as they were leading people astray and severely corrupted God’s original covenant. They also put demands on the people that were very difficult to keep and that were not from God). 

Jesus did not water down the Truth in order to get more people to like Him, He made it more accessible. When looking at how I strive to behave, (how I should treat others), I look at how Jesus acted. The popular WWJD, (What Would Jesus Do), actually has meaning when looking at how Christians should model their behavior. We should be uniting, not dividing. Make Jesus’ teachings more accessible, not water them down. Jesus did not condemn the woman at the well Photo Brian Chicoine collection

There are many examples of Jesus hanging out and interacting with whom the religious leaders called “sinners” and who they considered lowlifes. In fact, the leaders even called Jesus a “glutton and a drunkard” because of who He associated with, (plus the fact that he attended a wedding feast with a whole lot of these types of people). The Bible records an interaction that Jesus had that I often use to demonstrate how Jesus did – and we believers should – act towards others who are living outside of God’s will. It is when He spoke with the Woman at the Well.

Jesus and His disciples were traveling from Judea to Galilee and Jesus decided to go through Samaria, which was the most direct route, but Jews and Samaritans DID NOT get along. Jesus and His followers could have gone around, which would have taken considerably longer, but doing so would have been the preferred thing. But Jesus chose to go through Samaria, and not only that, He chose to interact with a woman (women and children were seen as property to first-century Jews and in most of the world). So, here is Jesus talking to a Samaritan Woman who was married five times and was currently living with her boyfriend. She was shunned. In fact, her being at the well at noon was because she wasn’t welcomed to go with the other woman in the morning before the intense heat settled in. In addition to all that, the woman at the well was the first person to whom Jesus openly revealed Himself as Messiah. Jesus did not condemn this woman – He didn’t say that God loved her but hated her sin. He loved her. So, even though this Samaritan woman was what we refer to as “living in sin,” Jesus was kind and compassionate and decided that she would be the first to know who He was. He did not condemn.      

Conclusion 

Instead of dividing, we need to unite, so if people are acting mean and are being divisive and say it’s because it’s what Jesus wants, tell them that Jesus loved on people, even when He disagreed with them.

Be kind and patient with others because they may have a battle going on that we do not know about. And remember…Jesus taught that part of the greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself.   

Feel free to share your thoughts with me at bchicoinemht@gmail.com.


 

About this Author

Brian Chicoine

Brian Chicoine is a New Hampshire native who moved to Manchester from Raymond in 1980. While a student at Notre Dame College here in Manchester, Brian transferred to Rhode Island College in Providence, where he met his now wife, Jackie. Brian and Jackie spent the next 20 years living in Providence and Manchester, returning to Manchester with their two sons, (who are proud Manchester natives), in the fall of 2017. He and his family intend on staying in Manchester and are committed to helping make it an even better place to live, work, and play.