Everyone wants to be valued. Everyone wants to be accepted. It’s the way we’re wired.
God values us. God accepts us. He’s the one that did the wiring.
Yet, we, the very proponents of the Good News can fall prey to defining and confining with conditional love (which isn’t really love as defined in 1 Corinthians 13). We’ve examined others through our own lens, defined them by our own measure, and confined them with our secret (or blatant) disqualification. We forget the debt we have been forgiven of and go out and demand from another.
So what to do? Well, first of all you have to admit your sorry state. ‘Fess up. You really don’t love people the way you should. Stop with the excuses. Last time I knew, excuses didn’t get anyone anywhere in the Bible except to be uninvited to a wedding feast. And the one who asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” The Bible said he asked in order to justify himself (read: get himself off the hook). The Samaritans were hated by the race of the wounded man who had been beaten by robbers and left by the side of the road. Yet it was a Samaritan who stopped and helped him. Yup. A man who intermarried with another race stopped to help someone who may have hated his guts. Maybe it’s because the Samaritan understood the pain of being disqualified.
While we were yet sinners…yet sinners…Christ died for us. Then why is it that we tell sinners how sinful they are as we hold up the light to their sinful ways? Do we really need to tell Aunt so-and-so that her email jokes are offensive? Do we have to publicly declare with our 1,000 signatures in our hand that we don’t need a strip club in our town? This only reflects a standard of righteousness (the Law) and people pretty well get that they either can’t attain it or are not interested in attaining it. What they will get is that we will befriend them. You will only want to do this if you get that love was extended to you while you were yet a sinner and in turn, you extend that love to another.
The two commandments that have been given to us are love God and love your neighbor. Jesus said the whole Law hinges upon these two new commandments. The Old Testament is fulfilled in the New Testament. If you are doing these 2 commandments you’re going to be fulfilling the Ten Commandments. Yet, we pull out that tape measure labeled “Law” don’t we? So did the Pharisees.
Thing is, I find that we are doing a lot of other things trying to get people to come to the Lord and stay there. Much of how we think and what we do appeals to the mind and not the heart. God is all about the heart.
Consider this quote from an atheist, James W.:
“It appears to me (an atheist) that these days the hype has died down and most people have some belief in the supernatural. As a Christian, you no longer have to convince people that there is a god, rather that your god is the correct one.”
Says it all, doesn’t it?
I think it’s time we woke up and acknowledged that we got some splainin’ to do. The only way we are going to really touch people (that is, if we really want to), is to change some things. No time in history has there been so much information readily available with a click of the mouse. Knowledge has increased in leaps and bounds. Yet, I find one of the biggest problems in churches today is relational issues and I don’t see people coming in droves because they learned that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. That makes me ask, “Hmm. Does something have to change?”
It’s easier to ask, “Have you read this new book?” It’s not so easy to say, “Come for dinner. I’d like get to know you.” Extra mile anyone?
Jesus said people will know God is real and loves them by our love for each other. The laying down your life kind of love. Jesus said there is no greater love. It’s not just a good idea. It’s the whole idea. This love reaches beyond educational, cultural, economic, and language barriers. It will cost you something. But being that kind of living sacrifice is going to really bring people to the God who loves them. You don’t reveal God without love. Take the cup and don’t look for another way.