Monday, December 23, 2013

LOVE

I grew up in a Christian home. I went to church Sunday morning and night, sang in the choir, played handbells, played in the orchestra, went to Wednesday night supper, participated in Sunday School and youth group. My life was about God; I believed in Him.

My personality was not one that questioned facts. I accepted the Truth and it made sense to me. I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior when I was seven. This age had meaning to me and I was so excited to be leading my life with Jesus by my side. During the last 24 years I have lived as a Christian, I have had many “hot-flashes.” Those are what I call the moments when you are on fire and in love with the Lord and you want to share it with everyone! Every sinner goes through their cycles of messing up. But then we repent and ask for forgiveness and we shout from the mountain tops how awesome our God is! He forgives us and welcomes us back each time we have strayed away from Him.

The time in between the hot-flashes are when I have been a lukewarm Christian. I always loved people and knew the truth, but I was never a disciple. I didn’t want to offend anyone with my beliefs. I didn’t want to make them or myself uncomfortable. They knew I was Christian and I knew they were not, but I never shared with them why I love Jesus. Lukewarm people rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers, or friends. They do not want to be rejected.

Now I am experiencing the biggest “hot-flash” I have ever had! I don't want to call it a hot-flash because I don't want it to end. I can honestly say I have put God-first in my life and I have never been happier. I want everyone to experience this PEACE. I am not afraid of rejection. That is something that has always held me back. We are not here for ourselves. What an awful world that would be. A world where we live this “alright life” then you die and that’s the end. But there is more, so much more! -- A kingdom with our Creator that LOVES you so dearly. I choose to live the life He has called me to, because it is far better than life without Him.
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Love is a hot topic now-a-days. The sermon this past week was all about love. We need to love our God and our neighbors. We need to love the sinners. It is meant for you to love God more than your spouse and more than your parents. It is in that order. I admit, my heart kind of hurt when Mr. JCrew always said he loved God more than me… but now I understand. (He didn’t say it to my face in a mean way, but just a list in the order of who he loved.) Loving God more than anyone, gives you the ability to love everyone; even the ones that are tough to love.

In today’s world, everyone wants everyone to love each other. Non-Christians want Christians to love them without pointing the finger at their sins. I’m concerned that our modern America idea of God’s love is very different than what is portrayed in the Bible. Love? Yes, absolutely. Compromise the Truth? Never. Jesus dying on the cross means nothing if we water down the definition of sin. It’s the ugliness of sin that we repent from. There are times that people speak the truth in a not so loving way; I don’t condone them. Jesus said we will be hated, just like He was. He died for me and while I love the sinner (before Christ I was one) I’ll never love the sinner more than I love Jesus. He never asked me to.
  
Jesus is a lover but he never stepped away from the Truth to love someone. He would not deny the commands of our Father or sugar coat them in any way. He called people out on their sins. He loved them and wanted them to change.

No matter what your sin is, all sins are equal. It is a black and white topic. Lying to someone is just as bad as murder. Sounds harsh, but the Gospel is offensive. Not one of us should judge another human being for what he or she chooses to do or not to do in this life. We all fall short of God’s Glory, hence forth why His only begotten son, Jesus Christ, came to save us. We are called above all commands to Love one another. There are times when people will be offended by what someone says when they reference God’s Word. There are times when I read and study God’s Word and I am offended, and this is because we all fall short of His Glory. The problem today is this: there are more folks who want the watered down, feel good teaching of Joel Osteen because he just doesn’t want to offend anyone. The word of God on the other hand convicts/offends EVERYONE of us in our hearts for our daily sins and choices that each of us make, but by HIS Grace through His son, Jesus Christ, we can ask and receive His forgiveness. None of us should ever verbally attack another person because of their choices that don’t appear to line up with God’s word, simply because, we all make choices everyday that don’t line up with God’s word. We’re all imperfect, but it also doesn’t mean that it is okay for the sake of humanity to water down God’s word to make everyone feel good, as well.
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How do I disciple if I don’t speak of God’s word? If I say that I feel homosexuality is a sin, I am not loving? Love without the truth (Jesus loved but ALWAYS spoke the truth) is not the Gospel. It is just love. Truth without love is just truth. Again, not the gospel of Jesus. How do we as a society have our cake and eat it too?

“The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”

“But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there.

Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
-          John 8:3-11

I don’t read that as Jesus letting the woman go away thinking that her life was the way He planned it for her. He loved on her and then he used the opportunity to speak truth into her life. He told her to leave her life of sin. Are we wrong to speak the truth especially when asked? Because all I see of disciples are truth speakers willing to be beheaded and imprisoned rather than stay silent or veer from the truth. And they rarely engaged people for a length of time before sharing the Truth. It was their job.

I want to be a disciple! Sin is our enemy; not people. We cannot judge or condemn people, but we are to offer Grace to the broken sinner. Christians should never be afraid to expose the wound of any soul. Because we do so out of LOVE. Should we love people straight to hell? We do if we don’t deliver the Truth. It’s uncomfortable. It is. But since when are we called to be comfortable?

We are able to offer Grace because we are sinners ourselves! God gives us the power to forgive when we think it is impossible. When we forgive, we want to show the broken how awesome life is when you put Jesus first! Something comes over you that you cannot explain. It is a wonderful PEACE.
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We are not going to hell if we acknowledge our sins and repent of them. And if you are seeking God with your whole heart and asking for forgiveness, you will want to quit that sin and ask Him to help take away your desires for it. If we repent and continue to sin, we are not actually sorry we are hurting God, we are just scared of going to hell and living a lukewarm life.

I don’t want anyone to suffer, and I know not everyone is going to come to know the Lord. He says the path is narrow and few will find it. But I do want to try, for others' sakes, and to do what I was put on this earth for.

“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in Heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my father in Heaven.” Matthew 10:32-33

“Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did.” – 1 John 2:6

That verse above, from 1 John, causes an uproar. Those that have not repented of their sins do not see us as being Christ-like when we point out the sin. They see us as not showing them love. We are pointing out their faults. I hate when my faults are pointed out to me. Mr. JCrew tells me I’m a neat-freak and I should spend more time with the kids and less time at work. Those are some of my many faults! I do want things picked up and tidy before I leave the house. And I do spend less time with the kids because I am at work or doing chores. It was hurtful to realize there may be truth behind his claims. I didn’t want to be equated as being a bad mom! So, I changed. I don’t tidy up the house. I only work my 40-hours a week. I make sure I engage with the kids every second I am with them. And guess what? I appreciated Mr. JCrew pointing out my faults. I am now enjoying the little moments with my children and they aren’t the only ones benefiting.
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The lukewarm Christians and non-believers want us to care about this suffering world more than we care about our Christian rights. I have not picked one thing to narrow down on nor am I ignoring the suffering world. I am out there making sure there is fresh water to drink, education and opportunities to hear about God. But you can’t re-direct my attention so that I forget about you. I can help third-world countries and help my brother/sister at the same time.

Loving as Christ loved is not what people think of as “love.” The world wants us to love them as they are. We do. You are uniquely made! But Jesus didn’t just love the sinner. He loved them and wanted them to change.

This is the beginning of my journey as a disciple. I’m not going to go around pointing out every body’s sins. Don’t worry. I have plenty of my own and Mr. JCrew and I are good at keeping after each other. But I am not going to accept a sin that I know is not the Truth. I cannot. It is my goal to continue to love you. Even if you have said hurtful things. God gave me the strength to forgive you. I love you and want what is best for you. You are loved beyond what you can imagine!




1 comment:

  1. I am so happy for you and for this joyous read! I also have hot/lukewarm moments and love those times when I'm on fire and wish they would last. I think people differ on their definitions of some sins, however. I think everyone agrees that the Ten Commandments are clear, but the definition of other sins are sometimes less clear. One should never compromise his or her beliefs one iota, but there are some Christians who passionately read the same Bible and seek the same Truth and sometimes come up with a different answer. They are not "compromising" or loving the world more, and I know I constantly evolve as I pray about different issues. Anyway, I just wanted to say I adore you and adore this post, and I just wanted to throw it out there that even when people believe something a little different, it doesn't mean they aren't seeking the Truth. We all read the Bible with our own biases thrown in there, and as long as we earnestly seek the Truth and put God first, I have faith that He approves. No matter what divides us, isn't it awesome that we can always come back to Luke 10:27/Mark 12:30? And I know that was the main point of your post...it's all about LOVE! :) Merry Christmas to you and your adorable family!

    ReplyDelete

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