I have been sitting here staring at this blank screen for quite some time now , trying to articulate what is on my heart without sounding like “one of those people”. I can however, tell my readers that this post is written directly to anyone who considers themselves to be a Christian. Why say this? God tells us not to judge others who are not in the faith. (1 Corinthians 5:12) How can we expect others to uphold to the ways of God if they do not even accept Him or His way? We simply cannot. Our job is to introduce them to the salvation following the Way brings (and if you are interested in this, have I got some great things to tell you). Ok, back to us now. I read through a blog the other day about the argument between Christians over the Matthew McConaughey speech at the Oscars. Some Christians applaud his efforts in talking about God in his speech, while others are disgusted at the hypocrisy. It is getting so discouraging to see all of us, as Christians, debating right and wrong. How silly is that? We Christians, who have everything we need to know given to us in the Word of God, debating over what it says! We debate the amount of sin it is ok to have in our lives. We debate whether or not its ok to sin if its part of our line of work. Christians who live a life that is “less sinful” than another Christians is either flogged verbally for being too “perfect” or flogging someone else verbally because the other Christians are less than “perfect”. No wonder people think we are nut jobs! No wonder kids are leaving the church as fast as they can, never looking back! No wonder people find it so easy to discredit the Creator and avoid His love and mercy! They look at us and say, “No thanks!”. Look at us! (this is me sarcastically screaming through my fingertips as I write this)
Brothers, sisters, congregations of all different “beliefs” we have to stop this. The church was called to be one. One in mind and in truth. One in belief in the Word of God, and one in being ambassadors for Christ. We have fought so hard to be called the ones who are “right”, that we have missed our mission. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard good, sincere people dismiss the faith all together because they didn’t want to be like the Christians they saw. That breaks my heart. We are failing. People are hurting and we are too busy arguing with each other. We are missing the mark and like it or not, we will be judged on that. So how do we start?
We have to all agree on what we are fighting for, and what our tools are. If you are a Christian, then you believe in God, and in His son. You believe that God is alive and well and speaks to us through His word. We cannot disagree in this! This is our cornerstone! Christ crucified for us, living and working within us, speaking to us through the word of God! We cannot chose to agree with God in one part of scripture, and not agree with Him in another. We have to have faith in God before we can serve God. We have to have full faith in the Word and stop choosing what we want to follow. Hebrews 4:12 tells us the word is alive, living and active. We are called to handle this word in truth as good workers 2 Timothy 2:15. Christians PLEASE examine the “doctrine” you are following. Is it following God’s Word? Are you willing to speak up if it is not? Are you willing to speak up in love if it is? What are we all fighting for? The spread of the gospel. Are you spreading the gospel? Are you spreading God’s word, or your own? This is our biggest threat. We love to debate how we do things in our congregations as opposed to others. Is this our primary goal? Abraham Lincoln once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” Our “houses” of worship are divided folks, and crumbling under our petty arguments over what we think God’s church should run like. Be Christ-like in your obedience to God’s word. Be united in the message it brings.
We have to posses a heart that gets offend by sin. When I first became a Christian, a lot of sin did not affect me. I was a teenager and still had a lot to learn. I did not get offend by going too far with my boyfriend. I did not get offended when someone used God’s name in vain. I did not get offended at the filth I saw on the big screen. I was moved by the fact that someone died for me so I could live, and most of all, I was scared to death of eternity in hell. My motives were about 70% fear of judgment, and 30% thankfulness. I felt as if I did my part in becoming a Christian, and life would go on unchanged. But then I grew in the word. God spoke to me each time I opened the word and sought after His wisdom. I began to feel uneasy and downright dirty when I found myself in a sinful situation. My love for Christ began to outweigh the sin. My desire to live a life as close to his teachings as possible outweighed the fear of hell. I felt a good, healthy guilt in my gut that sprouted from a deep respect for my Father in heaven. I am so thankful for this. Christians, God expects this from all of us. “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity,dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.” Titus 2:7. We will all struggle with this verse, each and every day, but are we really struggling? Are we struggling with cussing, partying, cheating on our wives or husbands, being single and sleeping around, holding grudges, being hypocritical, judgmental, crude, and downright worldly? Or are we just fine with it? The world LOVES it when we do these things without blinking an eye and call ourselves Christians anyways. It fuels the fire of pointing out our hypocrisy! Our hearts, if they are truly in Christ, get offended by these things. This is a process! The men and women in the bible struggled with these things, but the ones who were dedicated to God struggled and fought against these things. We do not have an example of Godly people accepting their ungodly acts as the norm. We see repentance. The alcoholic stumbles a few times before they conquer their sin, but they are active in trying. The teen who went too far sexually will falter at times, but is actively pushing it away. The Christian who likes to condemn others is praying for love and self control, but the change will not happen over night so they press on. These people are offended by sin and actively pursue change. We all sin and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23 That is why we needed Christ’s sacrifice. When we become his, we accept the grace, and strive to change our sinful nature. Have you ever changed? The term “christian” means Christ-like. Christ did not engage in sin, and sin offend him. If sin does not offend you, are you really Christ-like in the first place?
We must show love. “I hate gays.”, “I hate Obama.”, “I hate all muslims.”, “I hate all who do not act, look, and talk like me.” Wow. Way to show God’s love there Mr/Mrs Christian! So many of us hate the things that we fear, or have no control over. We have a sheer hatred for Gay people because we just can’t fathom why. We are quick to judge those who are given charge of us because we feel we have all the answers. We don’t want to get to know people who don’t live like we do, or live where we do, or worship God like we do, because they are different. 2 Timothy 1:7 states, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.” Are we trusting in the power of the word to change lives, or snuffing it out with hate? Are we showing God’s love for all people by using self control in our speech and actions? I don’t understand or agree with homosexuality, but I will love those who practice it. I really don’t understand or agree with Obama, but respect his position of authority. I don’t get why people chose to ruin their lives with drugs and alcohol, and it blows my mind when someone tells me they don’t believe in God, but I will love them regardless. I gotta be honest, I want to erase what I just wrote because I struggle with this. I don’t want to love the sinner, but hate the sin. I want to feel justified in my being offended by these people. By these people. Not the sin mind you, but the people. We don’t want to like “those” people much less love them! Christ had the amazing ability to peer into the souls of others. He saw past the sin, into the person, and chose to speak the truth in love, because he knew what they needed. Did you know we can do this too? How do we peer into the souls of others? We get to know them! We talk with them. We spend time with them, and share things with them. We stop seeing the sin, and see the person. I love the passage in John 13:34 where Christ states, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” By our love for one another, Christ will be seen through this love. We must love those who do not know Christ enough to practice self control with them just as we practice self control with those who we share the same beliefs with. Then we can share Christ, in love and let God take care of the rest. We fight so hard to get people to see things our way, and forget the wonderful gift of free will. God loves us enough to let us make our own decisions, and we have got to start doing the same. Speak the truth in love, and if they are receptive, Glory be to God! If they don’t, love them anyways. Be Christ-like in your love. Be they type of person that those who are lost look at and say, “That person is different. That person cares about me. Why?” Open door to Jesus right there!
All three of the points I made I struggle with on a daily basis, but I am so thankful that I am struggling, because I know that the struggle is shaping my heart to be more like His. I ask that you find it in your hearts to struggle as well.
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” James 1:22-27