I met a woman recently who said: “Jarrett, I cannot wait for you to meet my husband. He is a retired minister.”
“I would love to meet him,” I said. “I bet we have a lot to talk about.”
“You sure do!” she responded. “He hates a lot of things about church just like you!”
Initially, I responded to the woman by laughing and saying something like: “That’s right! I am certain that we will have a lot to talk about!” However, as I got in my car and drove back to my office, I thought about the tragedy of being primarily known in this world for what I hate.
If you have read my articles or listened to my sermons, you have heard me express some of my negative emotions regarding the church. I have criticized the church for being self-righteous, judgmental, exclusive, sexist, racist, homophobic, and ignorant. I have said that the church oftentimes looks more like a country club for the pompous than the Body of Christ doing the things Jesus did and loving the people Jesus loved. The reality is that there are many things about the church that I hate.
As I drove and reflected on the woman’s words, I was reminded of the words of Martin Luther King, Jr: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” And I ask myself: “Jarrett, what are you doing, what are you preaching and writing, how are you living, that shines the light of love?”
“Jarrett, What are you doing to be humble, accepting, and inclusive? What are you doing to do justice on the behalf of every person, to value the sacred worth of all people: male and female, black and white, Hispanic and Asian, gay and straight, open and close-minded, Christian and non-Christian? Jarrett, what are you doing to look like, act like, and be like Jesus in this world?”
If I can begin to work on these questions, maybe a time will come in my life when another person will approach me one day and say: “Jarrett, I cannot wait for you to meet my spouse. She is a retired minister. Her light shines in this dark world just like yours. She loves people and the church just like you!”