“I don’t really care about you and your family so stop trying to be friendly. Ionly care about myself. I don’t need you guys in my life.”
My jaw dropped as this relative of mine spewed out his hateful commentstoward me and my family. He was lashing out at me for making small talk and askinghow he was doing. My question was benign enough, but no doubt something about itset off his tirade of misplaced anger.
As someone who doesn’t follow Christ, his reaction should not have beensurprising to me. I apologized and tried to respond with kindness and humility. Thisonly enraged him more. He called me some awful things, letting me know he didn’tcare to speak to me again.
My thoughtfulness didn’t help anything. In fact, rather than deflating hisanger, I exacerbated the issue. While I’ve had to protect myself against anotherattack by setting boundaries, I still want to be an example of forgiveness and lovehim by faith, in order to be a light in his dark world.
Honestly, part of me wanted to slap him across the face. But he was obviouslystruggling with something deeper than just people being kind to him. Maybe hethought I lacked authenticity? Certainly a firm slap would not have helped him see Christ in me.
Hate and intolerance toward Christ followers is not only an Americanproblem. Check out this story that recently came across my desk at Jesus FilmProject.
In a northern African village, a woman we’ll call Asma becamesuspicious; she knew something was happening in a particular housewhere many women met regularly, and she was very angry.
She suspected the meetings were attended by women who hadrenounced her country’s religion and become Christians. But shewasn’t sure. She wanted to find out, but was so angry she dared notspeak with them.
Whenever Asma saw one of the women on the road, she would curseand swear, calling them prostitutes and betrayers of her family’sreligion. However, they always greeted her pleasantly, ignoring theinsults.
Later, Asma’s husband was unfaithful to her, and everyone in thevillage heard about it. This brought shame upon her.One day on the road, she passed one of the women, but instead ofcursing, she hung her head in shame, hoping to pass unnoticed.
One of the women walked up to her and said, “We care about you andwant to talk to you if you like.” Asma burst into tears and theyembraced.
The women took her to their home and comforted her, demonstratinglove and acceptance in spite of her past mistreatment of them. Afterwatching our film “Magdalena,” a powerful adaptation of the “JESUS” film for women, Asma realized Christ was who she needed. Shebecame a Christian and experienced release from her shame andanger.
What a powerful reminder for me. I need to be full of the Holy Spirit at alltimes, even when accused wrongly or mistreated. When my flesh wants to defend orhold resentment, I pray the heavenly Father helps me respond in love-like Christ,when hanging on the cross for so many of us who didn’t want his gift.
If you would like to know more about how to love by faith, check out this resource at Cru.org.