I had a conversation with a college guy from my church this past week. We talked about how important it is to be straight with people inside and outside of the congregation. Too often with the latter, we’re guilty of “playing church,” rather than truly loving our brothers and sisters in Christ with the harshness that love sometimes demands. I think similar things could be said in a lot of different contexts – we would rather skirt around issues than really dive into difficult territory, even as we claim to love those that might be sinking in the troubles of life or in sin. But why would our simple discomfort keep us from loving people to our utmost?
The answer in some situations – and specifically with church – might be that we’re just not convinced enough, either of the truth of the situation, the need someone has, or even of our love for others.
In Charlotte, Nao Tomori is none of these things. She’s convinced a) of the truth that these students with special abilities are in danger; b) that they are in need of assistance only she and her student council members can provide; and c) that despite their faults, none of them deserve to go through what her brother did.
That last point about her brother in the one that certainly seems to be the motivating factor that’s moved her forward. She was a witness of what occurred – maybe not of the experimentation itself, but of what her brother was once like and how he changed afterward. She is utterly convinced of what these scientists are going to do to other students with powers. Nao has no doubt that her rescue attempts must be done. Even when other students assault her because of her bluntness, even when she is almost killed by those she wishes to help, Nao continues to do her work because she must.
Born-again Christians claim to have witnessed something life-changing as well. They claim to have seen their sinful condition and to experience the conviction that leads them before the cross and its changing power. But transformation – that’s the hard part, expressed in all ways, but maybe especially by how weakly we treat the message of grace. If the gospel message is the primary story of mankind’s redemption, if with it we are given life itself and without it we’re on the road to death, why do we hold back from telling others or give it apologetically as if we’re kids giving an embarrassing message on behalf of our parents?
Maybe it’s because we’re not convinced.
Because to me, gruffness and special abilities aside, our lives should probably look a lot more like Nao’s and a lot less like everyone else’s. And if they don’t, we might need to look at our hearts and ask why? The answer might lead us in a dangerous direction where, like Nao, we risk what we hold dear (health, prestige, wealth) for that which is even more significant – the very words of life.