Living for Jesus and living like Jesus is not always an easy road. It never has been. Many of us — probably every single one of us — have stories to that effect. Chip and Joanna Gaines, the cheery personalities from HGTV’s “Fixer Upper,” are no exception.
They’ve told parts of the story of their faith journey in a video for I Am Second, and they have never been shy about talking about the source of their hope. Many have applauded them for that, but others have been less impressed. One prominent web site featured an opinion piece in 2016 that sought to stir up controversy about their Christian faith and whether or not the couple followed the cultural or biblical worldview on sexuality and marriage.
In the midst of that uproar, however, the Gaines’ remained quietly steadfast. They didn’t rush to make a statement or defend themselves or anything of that nature. In fact, even as the public came to their defense and began to criticize the authors of the inflammatory articles, Chip came to her defense and admonished people not to attack her in any way and to respect her even if they disagreed with her. He also firmly and gently continued to underline the fact that he, Joanna, and their family were keeping their eyes and hearts focused on God.
Now, in a blog post published on the Magnolia Market web site on January 2, 2017, Chip is continuing to point people to God by admonishing and encouraging each of us to look at how we interact with each other:
“This past year has been tough. In my lifetime, I can’t recall humanity being more divided. Plenty of folks are sad and scared and angry and there are sound bites being fed to us that seem fueled by judgment, fear, and even hatred. Jo and I refuse to be baited into using our influence in a way that will further harm an already hurting world, this is our home. A house divided cannot stand.
If there is any hope for all of us to move forward, to heal and to grow — we have got to learn to engage people who are different from us with dignity and with love. One of them is this: we care about you for the simple fact that you are a person, our neighbor on planet earth.”
It’s good to consider how Chip’s words echo the heart of God toward humanity. We know that God created us in His image and that, as such, He has created us with inherent value and dignity. It is harder to see and remember that, though, when we are in conflict with each other. But it is exactly because this conflict between a broken world and God’s hope exists that we must challenge ourselves to engage with people differently than the world does.
Jesus told us that God loved the world so much that He sent His son to save it. As if that wasn’t enough, He did it even though we didn’t deserve it and couldn’t earn it. In fact, He did it because we didn’t deserve it and could not earn it.
But it doesn’t end there.
The Magnolia Story is the first book from Chip and Joanna, offering their fans a detailed look at their life together. From the very first renovation project they ever tackled together, to the project that nearly cost them everything; from the childhood memories that shaped them, to the twists and turns that led them to the life they share on the farm today.
He calls each of us into this ministry of reconciliation. Our calling here on earth is not a passive one, it’s a challenge to help realize the kingdom of God here on earth as it is in Heaven. It’s to recognize that the world is made up of people who are sad, scared, and angry — which has been each and every one of us — and need a strength that only comes through God’s hope.
"Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who have an anxious heart, 'Be strong; fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance, with the recompense of God. He will come and save you.'” Isaiah 35:3-4