“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. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
Get ready. This is a long one. LOL.
I have been praying a lot lately. I have been crying a lot lately. And no, it is not just because I am a female and have those crazy female God-given emotions… It is for something much greater. I am burdened. I am saddened. I am heartbroken. I am, even at times, angry. Why?
I do not think we, as Christians, are following this verse very well at all.
Folks, there is a PROBLEM when I hear things like “Oh, I like Jesus, just not Christians…” or “Oh well I don’t want anything to do with a faith where people treat others that way.” I don’t care WHAT excuses you can make for that. IT. IS. BAD. And yes, you have no idea how often I have heard this when I talk to people.
I know many will argue with me, and that is expected. I know many will not understand what I mean, and that is OK too (well no, it really is not OK, but I expect this too). I know many will start reading this and tell me, but what about truth? We can’t just LOVE LOVE LOVE and never share truth. I agree. The Bible agrees. Jesus agrees.
But, we are still required to love in sharing that truth. We are still required to show the same mercy, grace, and compassion that our Savior showed us as measly and wretched sinners. Yes. YOU are a wretched sinner. SO. AM. I.
We ALL are. — “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23
I spent the vast majority of this morning reading through much of the gospels and even into some of Paul’s letters. Do you know what happened? I began to weep. We as Christ followers have strayed so far from the example that Jesus set for us. I read stories of how Jesus interacted with sinners. I read stories of how he spoke to them. I read stories of how he loved them, poured into them, and cared for them. I read about how he got to know them. WHERE. THEY. WERE. like Zacchaeus. Like the woman at the well. like the woman caught in adultery. Yea, I could keep going. I encourage you to click on those stories and read them. Did he share truth? Yes. Did he share they needed to put their faith in Him to be saved? You betcha. However, I did not ONCE see Jesus bash, yell at, argue with, or beat down sinners.
He did to the Pharisees, the ones who should “know better”. Why? Because they cared so much for rules and traditions and if someone was “clean” or not they lacked grace, mercy, compassion, and most of all LOVE. Hmm sounds sadly similar to how WE, as JESUS’ followers act at times huh? He did not get into a fighting match with the Pharisees just so he could though. He did not speak simply so HE could “be right” (though we all know Jesus is right. The bible says Jesus is THE way THE truth and THE life, john 14:6) Jesus knew exactly what to say, when to say it and how to say it. He did not get into foolish controversies, like we like to do so often. (Titus 3:9-11)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” Galatians 5:22-25
Many times, I am guilty of this too, Christians get into a spitting match. MAY WAY IS RIGHT! says one. NO MINE! says another, or people say, in order to be a “good Christian” you must do such and such and do it such and such way. You must believe it EXACTLY this way or you are not a REAL Christian who loves God enough. We stand for truth in a way that makes us look like… well. I don’t want to cuss, but I am sure you can think of what word I am thinking of. We get into debates and fights and arguments, and in doing so, make us look completely unloving, unkind, and well, like jerks. Do you think this is following this passage I just shared? I shouldn’t even have to answer that. It should be pretty dang obvious.
Yes, this passage says that those in Him will put away desires of the flesh. I believe this takes time. It is NOT an overnight process. If it had to be, we would all be pretty much SOL. Shoot, if it were, I would NEVER worry. Do I still? UHH. Yes. Sadly I do. We all will struggle with sin. We all will continue to struggle with it because this World is decaying and dying. It is corrupt and broken, and so is our hearts. However, when we see a someone in sin, or struggle with sin, we still have the responsibility, and are COMMANDED, to be patient, loving, kind, compassionate, etc, with them. LOVE them back into a right relationship with God.
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. 2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:1-3
The Bible has A LOT to say about sin, yes. We are all sinners, and unless we repent, believe and accept Jesus, we will NOT be saved. We will NOT be forgiven, but you know what? The Bible has a WHOLE lot to say on HOW we proclaim this message. The Bible has a whole lot to say on loving others. The Bible has a lot to say on how we talk to and treat others. The Bible has a lot to say on how we should treat those in need of Christ. Speaking in such a way that pushes them away or makes them run farther from Christ is NOT the way to go about sharing the amazing message of Christ and his UNFAILING love. It simply makes the person feel they are not good enough where they are to be forgiven. That is not true. Why?
“because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9
Folks. THAT is the message we need to be proclaiming, the message that “…God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
The verse doesn’t stop there… He goes on to say “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
So WHY, as Christians, are WE doing this? We may think we are not, but sadly, many times we are. The way we speak, the way we share, the way we get into “pissing matches” (sorry for the language but it’s true) does NOT show this. It does not show that God’s love is for all. When the word “WHOSOEVER” is mentioned in John 3:16, that means EVERYONE. That means black, white, whatever ethnicity, Hindu, Muslim, male, female, woman, man, girl, boy, those who have murdered, those who have committed adultery, those who have stolen, those who have lusted, those who have lied, homosexuals… It doesn’t matter. We are ALL sinners. We ALL need Christ to cleanse us from our sin, but you see? It doesn’t matter what that sin is, because we ALL have them. Jesus came to cleanse ALL sins. To save ALL people. Regardless of who that person is, what they have done, or what they are doing, or what they WILL do.
We need to speak truth, yes. We need to let people know that in order to be saved we must repent of sins, but we first need to help people realize we are ALL sinners, but that Christ loves them SO SO SO much. He loves them more than any love imaginable. He loves them more than they can imagine! He loved them so much… HE DIED FOR THEM.
But, many times, we don’t even get to that point because our words offend, bash, tear down, and push people away before we even have a chance to get to the amazing message of the gospel.
I heard something very wise once: When we are sharing, what WE say should never offend. The Gospel is offensive enough. If anything offends, let the Gospel. We never should.
I 100% agree. Yes, people may hate us for following Christ. I have lost friends because of what I believe, but it was never because I was so mean and hateful, it was because when I shared the Gospel message, THAT offended them. It offended them that the Bible would call us all sinners.
Christians, wake up. We MUST change how we are reaching people. We will never reach people through arguing, trying to be right, trying to prove points, yelling, bashing, getting into debates etc etc etc… You wanna know how we can truly reach people for Christ? Truth yes, but TRUTH IN LOVE
“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:12-17
^THIS folks. That’s how.
Do YOU love? Will others know? Will others know you are a Christian by YOUR love? If people can’t tell. We have a problem. We have a BIG problem, and it is time to change.