A reader writes: strong and benevolent Christian identity in these times
Each night of the book tour I've met wonderful people, and we've had tremendous interaction in city after city. Many things people say and send are deeply personal and deeply encouraging to my own soul, as you'll see in this note:
we just met a little over a week ago, in st. louis, after your presentation on inter-faith dialogue....
in addition to my gratitude for your time and your words that evening - and truly, i am indeed grateful - i'm writing this note to tell you - i am so proud of you. as you said to me regarding my own desire to stand in solidarity with the gay community in my particular context 'it is the christ-like thing to do.'
there was a beauty to those words - they resonated with truth.
you repeated them as if you spoke them from a deeper place than i realized...
'it is the christ-like thing to do....'
He then recounts reading an article about me on a popular website:
most the comments were atrocious. as i read through them, i literally began to cry. ... it's damning. and i'm so sorry for the words that are spoken - toward you and your family - in the name of christ. what a painful example of the sort of hostility you have such a passion to bring us out of as christians.
...i am encouraged by your commitment to live like jesus, and to teach others to do the same. you inspire me to be more christ-like, to find the strength and the courage to run hard after God in the way of jesus regardless of the voices that would attempt to convince me otherwise - voices often found inside the church.
... i'm proud of you for writing what God has stirred in your soul to share with his church. i'm proud of you for being willing to put yourself on the line - being misquoted, misinterpreted and misunderstood - and responding with a divinely inspired grace.
you give me hope.... thank you. thank you for serving as an example of what gracious disagreement looks like within the context of a life tilted toward christ, of exemplifying a strong and benevolent christian identity in these times.... in the midst of many hateful things said by others- past, present and future - i wanted to pass those thoughts along to you.
i hope to live my faith out as well as you live yours. you are truly an inspiration of what it looks like to love God and others in the way of jesus.
Obviously, this is very humbling and one encouraging comment like this can make up for a thousand nasty jabs in comments sections. It's clear from responses like this that people aren't just looking for a book or an idea: they're looking for imperfect but growing examples of lives "tilted toward Christ." May all of us keep "tilting" in that direction - toward kindness (not hostility), toward justice (not prejudice), toward truth (not misinformation or ignorance), toward generosity (not fear), toward hope (not cynicism), toward self-giving (not self-protection). We have a long way to go, so it's better for us to begin today than to wait until tomorrow.