One of the things I love about the ministry I'm getting into (chaplaincy) is that the only thing I have to protect is the heart of the person I'm coming into contact with. See, Christians have always thought they've had a lot to defend - their doctrine, their practices, their understandings. Like we have to defend Christ somehow.
It's where most of our fights come from - inside the church and out. We're prone to think we've figured out the right way to do things. The right way to understand God. The right way to worship Him. The right way to serve Him. The right way to proclaim Him. The right way to shove Him down everyone else's throats. We are, after all, the righteous. Are we not?
Pardon me while my heart breaks.
I love that in my ministry, I don't have to deal with that. At least, not from myself. I don't have to worry about doctrine. I don't have to worry about practice. I don't have to worry about theology or understanding or getting it right or correcting the wrong. I have just one thing to do: figure out, in any given situation, how to be Jesus to a hurting world. That's it. And here's what makes that possible:
I spend my life walking through other people's doors; they aren't walking through mine.
I have nothing to defend. I have nothing to protect. Nobody's coming into my sacred place; I'm entering into theirs. I walk in knowing I have to figure out what's holy here. And just as I wouldn't walk into a friend's house and start tidying up (without being asked), I'm not about to walk into someone else's sacred space and start moving furniture around. In these broken moments, this is least what someone needs.
What they need is for Jesus to be present. What they need is someone to come in with grace. What they need is someone to say something meaningful...something meaningful to them, in their own holy place, however I find it. I don't agree with everyone I minister to. We don't share the same doctrines, the same practices. In some cases, we don't even share the same God. But that doesn't mean I have nothing to say to them. That doesn't mean we've hit a barrier. I just have to remember where I am.
I walked through their door.
And I think the world would be a better place if we all did a little more of that. If we spent our time walking through other people's doors instead of trying to drag them through ours. There's something incredibly beautiful about walking through these doors. It takes away our need to be defensive. This isn't our space; it's someone else's. It invites us to grace. We know we are just guests here.
And it challenges us, at every turn, to figure out how to be Jesus here. Not how to defend Him; He doesn't need our defense. Not how to proclaim Him; He doesn't need our proclamation. But how to be Jesus. How to be grace. How to be mercy. How to be present. How to be Love.
Do you know how to be Love?
Walk through someone's door and be it, then.