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Please Choose Compassion over Condemnation in 2024

Please Choose Compassion over Condemnation in 2024

Christians may one day look back at 2024 as a turning point in American history.  The question is whether this year will be remembered for repentance and revival or division and demise.  The battle raging in our nation as we approach the Presidential election appears to be political but is instead spiritual.  Progressives define progress as moving beyond the arcane religious values of our forefathers and parents.  Debates over parties and politicians in the news and social media have little to do with power or policies but a way of life.  As evidence, consider that every hot-button issue dividing America is an attempt to undermine the underpinning of our society – the family as defined in Scripture.  Abortion, gender fluidity, toxic masculinity, gay marriage, and school curriculum (to name a few) are designed to break down the “traditional” family unit.  Professors, politicians, and publications presume to assume the fatherhood role, labeling parents who protest their views “out of touch” at best or “domestic terrorists” at worst.  The underlying message is that government and secular influencers would do a better job than Christians of raising their children.

Knowing those objectives, how should Christians respond?  During the 2016 and 2020 elections, Christians had more political clout and went on the offensive.  Unfortunately, the Kingdom cost of ignoring the biblical adage to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” was astronomical.  The tides have turned and Christian voices have become largely silenced, classified as “hate speech” by redefining “intolerance” and “love”.  Repeating the mistakes of the past during the 2024 election cycle instead of dropping the proverbial stone through acts of kindness for those across the political aisle may seal America’s fate.  Our nation’s hope rests on demonstrating God’s love and imitating His Son Jesus Christ through true, modern-day stories like these…

Why Not Judging Opens the Door to Offer Hope

“Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”…“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:4-7

A friend wrestling with sexuality and gender needed love, not more condemnation.  Knowing about my faith in Jesus shouldn’t have made him reluctant to share about those struggles, but it likely did.  Testing the waters to see what I would say, he gradually opened up when he saw I wasn’t passing judgment.  He eventually confided about leaving homes, states, jobs, and relationships to start a new life free from the looks he endured in the deep south while changing gender identities and later detransitioning.

We worked together for over two years on an initiative he was leading with a public university and a health care network to address the local opioid crisis.  When he invited me to help with strategic planning, I made clear my mission would be to engage churches with state agencies to bring faith into the equation (because Jesus is the ultimate alleviator of the pain fueling opioid abuse).  Not only did that not dissuade him, he eventually suggested we coauthor a published article outlining our theories and findings on the need for faith and secular institutions to collaborate to confront addiction in cities.

My friend’s trust in my love and concern for him gave me countless opportunities to talk about Jesus and disciple him through regrets and repentance.  He had a faith background and strong pastoral mentor, but the physical, emotional, and spiritual impact of past decisions still presented a significant need for growth and acceptance of God’s forgiveness.  I was able to step in and serve as a big brother bringing faith-focused wisdom to our community planning and life discussions.  Had I felt the need to voice my views on his early lifestyle choices rather than dropping my stone, he may have shut me out of his life and ministry endeavors.

How Dropping My Stone Restores Relationships

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

In today’s polarized world, it’s easy to get caught up in the habit of judgment, especially when conversations turn political.  Recently, I found myself in such a situation with fellow church members.  They shared a series of political statements, fervently viewing “the other side” as the enemy.  In that moment, I faced a choice – respond with counterarguments, as I often do, or drop my stone.  This time I chose the latter.

Extending grace proved far more impactful than engaging in a back-and-forth debate.  I listened attentively and acknowledged their perspective without passing judgment.  I didn’t highlight our differences but focused on the people in front of me.  To show my desire to bridge divides was sincere, I invited them to share a meal with me.  We had a meaningful conversation, connected on a level far deeper than our political views, and created space for mutual respect.  Before parting ways, I offered to pray for them.  We bowed our heads, and I asked the Lord for peace, understanding, and blessings in their life.  Prayer reinforced our bond and demonstrated how love and grace can overcome division.

While this encounter didn’t alter their political stance, dropping my stone softened their hearts and transformed mine.  No one involved in those interactions will ever be the same because I let Agape love and empathy replace a defensive (or offensive) posture.

The Power of Saying Nothing When Reviled Unfairly

“When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” 1 Peter 2:23

I was asked by a consulting firm to lead an existing project that was destined to fail when the CEO asked the senior executive who had caused the company’s problems to oversee the project.  When we began to uncover those issues, the executive made every effort to suppress our findings.

As the politics and divisiveness surrounding the project team mounted, the consulting director who had sold and structured the project called for a meeting with me and the president of our firm.  In that meeting, despite the fact that I had walked into an untenable situation, the director offloaded responsibility onto me for the challenges we were facing.  I sat in disbelief but said nothing despite several opportunities to tell the truth about how the consulting director had set up the project.

A few months later, when the director feared his daughter had cancer, he called asking me to pray for her.  He knew of my faith in Jesus and said he couldn’t believe that I had remained silent that day while he was blaming me for his failures.  He said that dropping my stone when he was throwing rocks had inspired and convicted him.  In his moment of urgent need for the Lord’s help, he wanted me to intervene, convinced the Lord would hear my prayers for his daughter.  Our gracious God did heal her and a family was transformed by His mercy, which started with one simple act of dropping a stone.

The Impact of Speaking Up When No One Else Will

“He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” John 20:15

People noticed but didn’t bring it up, at least not to her face.  Growing up as a child of an alcoholic mom, I recognized the signs as well.  I’m naturally protective of the children in those situations because I know how they suffer.  When she came to pick her daughter clearly intoxicated, the time had come to stick my neck out.  My son was friends with both of her children and I had to been trying to lead that family toward Christ.  I understood the possible consequences of confronting her – losing friendships and opportunities for discipleship.  However, fearing for the welfare and safety of her kids, unconditional love compelled me to ask the hard questions no matter the cost.

I called and said it seemed she was drunk when she drove her daughter home that day.  Instantly, she broke down crying and confessed she’d just reached rock bottom in her long-time battle with alcoholism.  She couldn’t believe I had reached out the exact day and time she had finally given up all hope.  She was shocked that my mom’s story was so similar to her own and listened intently as I shared a child’s perspective on a mother’s addiction.  She saw my intervention as a sign from God that He hadn’t forgotten her.  She knew my motive for speaking up when no one else would was genuine concern, not throwing stones.

That simple act of faith – to make that call and confront with compassion – set the stage for more ministry opportunities (and challenges) than I could have ever imagined.  Given my upbringing, it was tempting to be angry, but thankfully the Lord led me to drop my stone.  My wife and I wouldn’t trade for anything the subsequent years we got to spend with her children, caring for them like our own.

It’s Your Turn…

Do you have a Drop The Stone story?   Although we haven’t yet launched the campaign, look for a prayer, care, and share opportunity, post about it using the hashtag #DropMyStone, and tag 5 friends to encourage them to follow your lead.

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