“To Jesus through Mary!”
Written on an acquaintance’s Facebook wall above the image of a man kneeling before a statue of Mary, the words pierced my conscience. Knee-jerkingly reflexive, I responded:
“Or better yet, directly to Jesus. Can I have an amen?”
Smugly, I waited for the “likes” to rack up on my clever comment.
Twelve hours later, crickets. Not one response. It was eerily quiet in cyberspace; the calm before the storm.
Quietly, my comment disappeared...deleted. In its place a blistering blog entry revealing the word wounds my keystrokes left in their wake.
The author graciously left me unnamed as she emoted how my comment “robbed” her of joy; “rained” on her parade; “invited others to gang up” on her.
Anger flared. I mentally prepared a rebuttal to each and every point in her rant.
As fast as the rage roiled through my veins, the Holy Spirit snuffed its source.
Abruptly humbled, completely ashamed, and recoiling from my behavior, my heart lay face down and bare, prone before the throne of Him who died for me; prone before the throne of Him who died for her. And the fight inside me immediately fled.
In its place, 1 Corinthians 13:1, from The Message: “If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.”
“Rusty gate” indeed. I thought of beloved Catholic friends whom I deeply respect. Not in a million years would I have treated them like I treated this Facebook friend. Embarrassment floods over me when I think that maybe they witnessed this public exchange. Why?
Because I love them.
And then 1 Corinthians 13:3-4 bears down: “If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.”
My words were everything but love. The real truth? *I* am spiritually bankrupt.
I used truth as a weapon, wielded it erratically, all the while chanting internally the mantra, “I speak the truth in love.” Blind to lacerations left by my words, I offered no love to this woman.
Furthermore, I ignored the simple fact that as a professing Catholic, she of course goes directly to Jesus in prayer and worship; she dips her fingers into purified water, bends her knees on holy ground, and bows before the Savior every week.
Jesus. He is our common ground.
While discussion regarding Mary-worship might possibly -- though not necessarily -- lead to division, surely my caustic conduct in the realm of social media rudely eradicated any path to respectful dialogue, certainly drove a wedge between us, two children of the Christ.
My injured Facebook friend admonished me, and rightly so; I asked for forgiveness.
The story ends well with genuine pardon extended and hugs shared, but greater still is the beauty God birthed out of the ashes - a guiding principle:
Suddenly, 1 Corinthians 13:13 becomes clear: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
Without love, God has no pathway to deliver His truth.
Remove love and destroy God’s method for reaching His beloved lost people.
Eliminate love and refute any shred of proof to the world that we are Christ’s disciples (John 13:35).
Abolish love and become a clanging, noisy, creaking purpose-lost legalist who gains nothing for the Kingdom, creates a chasm among brothers and sisters in Christ’s family and sullies the beautiful name of Jesus in the world.
If love is the path down which the Father’s truth travels, then my purpose is to construct roads of love between God and His world.
The choice for all of us, then, is this: Shall we strive to be inviting, truth-bearing, humble guides extending a map of the Way? or gloating, self-righteous, obstructive roadblocks working not for the Father but against Him?
Or more succinctly, am *I* a roadblock to truth?