CHRIST WAS THE EMBODIMENT OF LOVE FOR EVERY SINGLE PERSON HE MET
Every person you meet is a child of God. Let that sink in.
I think that all of us who would call ourselves by the Name of Christ would do well to put aside the arguments and divisions among us in order to remember this unchanging fact. It’s supposed to revolutionize the way we perceive others, and ourselves.
Every person you meet is a child of God.
No matter who they are, what they’ve done, or what kind of character faults you think they have. God’s loving pursuit surrounds them with passion & affection & purpose just as much as it does for you. You are His hands and feet and mouth toward this end. Indeed there will be judgment for every soul, but we need to stop believing & acting as if that’s supposed to happen in this life according to human initiative & discretion. That part of God’s story hasn’t started yet, it still is yet to come. Now is the time for following the ways of Jesus…He loved & served everyone He met…and pointed them to the Father. Our motivation for sharing the message about Jesus, “The Gospel” (literally “good news”), must not be about about making converts…but making friends & family. Our understanding of “Church” must be more about “who” than “what.” Our part is to continue in the footsteps of Jesus and His early followers in whatever circumstances we find ourselves, and let God be God.
Once again, I’ll quote my wise dad:
“I did 8 groups for unchurched but curious people, 2008-2012, comprised mostly of agnostics with a sprinkling of atheists…”skeptics.” In each group I asked what they thought of the church. Without exception each group agreed that “they (Christians in the church) talk too much and do too little, and much of what they have to say is mean-spirited.” In this media saturated, I-phone connected, emailed and noisy culture we live in, talk has never been cheaper. When we approach the day, our filters are in full gear and we actually hear very little of the noise that is directed at us. The institutional church is part of the noise. Hugh Halter and Matt Smay wrote a great book called “The Tangible Kingdom.” They say that the actions we do and the character of the fellowship we form are essential to getting a reasonable hearing from the people we wish to talk to…that the Kingdom of God is essentially tangible, not essentially verbal.“ (Taft Mitchell)
I think the reason that many skeptical people today think that Christians are hypocrites is because we’ve collectively allowed our focus & motivations to be shaped by carnal (aka man-made) desires & dreams…so we no longer look & smell like the Jesus of the Bible. Our skeptical brothers & sisters have strong “B.S. filters,” and they can smell a phony from a mile away. They look at us, then they look at the New Testament, and sing the old song “One of these things is not like the other.” Here’s Jesus’ advice to the backslidden Ephesian church in the first century A.D., which reminds me so much of American Christians today: “I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” (Revelation 2:4-5).
So, I challenge myself to remember who He is, what He valued, how He lived, and be dedicated to following Him in my own clumsy & imperfect way. Will you join me in this? Here are some bread-crumbs back to the path of Jesus and His earliest followers:
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.” (Galatians 5:13-26)
“As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” (Colossians 3:12-13)
“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-8)