Published February 5, 2013
"Love In Action"
Last summer, Americans by the thousands went out to eat at Chick-fil-A restaurants to show their support for the uncompromising stand for Christian principles expressed by the company's head, Dan Cathy. It was, as you'll recall, all about his widely-reported statement, "We are very supportive of the family the Biblical definition of the family unit... We want to do anything we possibly can to strengthen families. We are very much committed to that."
That, of course, drew the ire of those championing same-sex marriage.
Here's some good news and some even better news.
The good news is that God has been blessing Chick-fil-A. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the privately-owned chain's sales in 2012 were up 14 percent from the previous year, totaling $4.6 billion. And they even added 96 new stores.
But the even better news is that Dan Cathy continues to show a true Christian spirit in dealing with the issue. He's doing it by reaching out to the very individuals who were some of his most vocal critics.
One of those critics was Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride, a pro-gay organization.
Windmeyer, in a lengthy article he wrote for the Huffington Post, said he received an unexpected call from Cathy late last summer. That first call lasted more than an hour and was followed by several additional calls and even face-to-face meetings.
Cathy invited Windmeyer to join him and his family as guests at the New Year's Eve Chick-fil-A Bowl (which has become college football's most charitable bowl game, distributing an all-time high of $1.48 million in charitable and scholarship contributions). Campus Pride had originally intended to protest the event. But because of the new line of communication that had developed, not only did they call off that protest but they also dropped their "5 Simple Facts About Chick-fil-A" campaign condemning the company's alleged discrimination against gays.
Was this just a slick counterattack by Cathy, designed to disarm the enemy?
Actually, Windmeyer doesn't think so. He wrote, "It was Dan who took a great risk in inviting me. He stood to face the ire of his conservative base (and a potential boycott) by been seen or photographed with a LGBT activist. He could have been portrayed as caving to the gay agenda' by welcoming me.
"Instead, he stood next to me most of the night, putting respect ahead of fear. There we were on the sidelines, Dan, his wife, his family and friends and I, all enjoying the game."
Windmeyer admits that Cathy never apologized for his stand, nor did he water it down in any way. He was uncompromising. But Windmeyer didn't back off from his stand, either.
Here were two men with very different stands, from very different worlds, neither changing their views, but respecting each other as individuals. It's a living example of the wisdom found in Proverbs 15:1a: "A soft answer turns away wrath..."
Cathy is modeling for us the way we as Christians should respond to unbelievers who obviously have different stands even stands that we believe are, based on clear Scriptural teaching, sinful. While the world expects hatred, the Christian response should always be love. Those who shout condemnation in a boisterous and very public way are simply adopting the world's tactics not doing it Christ's way.
The Lord said, "Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven..." (Matt. 5:44-45a).
Someone once said of unbelievers, "You have to love them into the kingdom."
"If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; For so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the Lord will reward you" (Proverbs 25:21-22). Paul builds on that verse with this instruction: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good" (Romans 12:21).
Cathy's outreach to his "enemy" an act that was totally unexpected by that "enemy" has made quite an impression. Windmeyer, commenting on attending that bowl game with Cathy's family, wrote, "Gay and straight, liberal and conservative...we could stand together in our difference and in our respect. How much better would our world be if more could do the same?"
Indeed. Who knows what the impact of this simple gesture may be? Perhaps it will have positive eternal consequences. Perhaps not. But, regardless, it's an exemplary but all too uncommon gesture of Christian love in action.
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