Find the Underdogs

I had the chance to spend the week with a handful of pastor friends of mine from around the country. We meet twice a year and share both the highs and lows of ministry. It’s always encouraging to have the chance to be vulnerable with others and to experience others being vulnerable in return. One of the takeaways was how hard it is to lead a church in this season… and nobody thinks it’s going to be anything but more difficult in the future.

As could be imagined, our conversations over the week covered a variety of topics. Many of the topics are widely polarizing issues. On many of the discussions it seemed that to say anything into these discussion was to invite criticism from others who see it differently than we do. To be honest, there were moments it felt like there was no win in sight.

One afternoon we had the chance to talk with Danielle Strickland who happened to be in town. One of the things she shared in her time with our group was about her desire as a kid to always cheer for the underdog. Admittedly, I don’t do this when it comes to my favorite sport. As a Yankee fan, they normally don’t qualify (this year they are exceptionally bad and may be earning underdog status).

But when it comes to real life, I’m a big fan of the underdog. As I process the conversations from this week I’m left with a new strategy I want to pursue. Whenever we think of an issue, what if our desire was to find and align ourselves with the underdog in that situation?

I’ve found that as Christians, we often feel the need to defend some abstract concept of truth. This is usually under the lens of orthodoxy, or right doctrine, or a desire to win a culture war against a perceived agenda. But what if we simplified the conversation and looked for who the marginalized are in each situation and then looked for ways we can support them? Find the underdogs.

Jesus was the perfect embodiment of grace and truth, but His pursuit of truth was never removed from people. Jesus’ defense of the woman caught in adultery is a great example of this (John 8:1-11). He sided with a sinful woman in the midst of her sin rather than separate Himself from her because of what was right. That doesn’t mean He suddenly endorsed her sin. Rather, His first objective seemed to be how to support someone who was marginalized from others. This was at great risk for Himself. Jesus was a champion of the underdog.

I’ve noticed that we aren’t as good at connecting our pursuit of truth with people. It becomes theoretical rather quickly. Much of the truth we fight for may actually be a defense of our opinions and views. As I get older, I’m realizing I’d rather be known for how I love people (especially marginalized people) instead of how good I was at defending ideas.

I'd rather be known for how I love people instead of how good I was at defending ideas. Click To Tweet

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Jeremy Jernigan

Speaker | Author | Founder of Communion Wine Co.