I feel like this poor frog A LOT! So many ways to view the world. Who is right? How can I KNOW what is best? Do I go through a metamorphosis with every new wind of doctrine? Can I just go back to being a tadpole swimming in the warm water where we all looked just alike? Do I really have to grow legs and get on land and be a “grown-up?” How do I live the Christian life: a life of faith, compassion, love, and honesty, in a culture increasingly hostile toward Judeo-Christian values and precepts. Do I get to bury myself in the mud and hibernate? Is my croak a joyful song or just more noise amid the cacophony of all the talking heads: Believers verbally beating up other believers and non-believers alike because their way of expressing faith, belief, ideology, and lifestyle is different and even committing crimes to “defend the faith.”
Are you wondering like me “what would Jesus do?” What did Jesus say about this if “there is nothing new under the sun?”(Ecclesiastes 1:9)
Well, after diving deep, here is what He said in Matthew 12:30 “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.” and in Luke 9:50, “And Jesus said unto them,’ Forbid him not: for he that is not against us is for us.’” Mark 9:38-50 is Jesus commentary on this. (In my humble opinion!) And in Acts 5:28-39 we read of the wisdom of a Pharisee who said, “If it is of God you will not be able to otherthrow it.” Philippians 1:15-18 further advises this seeker of truth.
Is this why criticism in the church is considered an abomination? (Proverbs 6:16-19) We are so divided we cannot stand and we are not thankful. Instead of sending us individually deep into God’s word and allowing the Holy Spirit to help us discern the truth we shoot the messengers. It makes me so sad and the world LOVES IT! We provide the ammunition the enemy needs to accuse us before God and man. (Revelation 12:10)
Jesus never compromised the truth. He called sin, sin. But, I am coming to understand His compassion and “acceptance” was based on Ephesians 6:12: “For we wrestle not with flesh and blood but with…..” Jesus understood, we WRESTLE in this life with an enemy that without faith in God we are powerless to overcome. We are all born “tainted by the world” (Romans 5:12). We all have a particular bent toward sin–things in life we struggle to not do, that we instinctively know are wrong. (Romans 7:15-20) And yes, God’s word does say “throw out those things tainted with evil.” (I Thessalonians 5:22) However, we are “not to throw out the baby with the bathwater.” This unfortunately, is what we tend to do. We focus on the sin not the individual in need of love, compassion, forgiveness, inclusion, and mercy.
Jesus said to be salt and light. (Matthew 5:13-16) We are to enrich the lives of all those around us not just “our kind.” Jesus life was an example of this from beginning to end. He met people where they were. He offered grace–seeing people as doing the best they could at the time, but also seeing them not as they were but as they would become. (I love this definition of grace because it says there is hope for me to be all He created me to be and it THROWS opens the door of forgiveness!) Jesus had candid, calm, and contemplative dialogue with people. Not condemning, condescending, and cantankerous one-sided discurse. (no that is not misspelled)
Like the Pharisees, (John 7:45-52) all too often, we come to believe our way is the only way and yet Jesus constantly “colored outside the lines.” (April 19, 2017) Maybe what God is calling His church to is less cultism and entertainment, (“a holy huddle”) and more just being the hands and feet of Jesus by offering cold water, shelter, food, medicine, education, kind words, and a thousand and one other acts of kindness. The Bible says in I Peter 3:15-16, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you….” Could it be, if we are doing acts of kindness and meeting needs of a hurting world, THEY WILL COME TO US, and give us the opportunity to share the good news of salvation and then the HOLY SPIRIT can do His work? (John 8:29) John 16:13 reminds us: “Howbeit when he the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth…” And II Peter 3:14-18 is an admonition to remember we are not free of this world and we ourselves are still at risk of falling. Matt Chandler, in his book, To Live Is Christ, To Die is Gain, wrote, “Living a life worthy of the gospel does not mean pretending to be perfect. Instead, it means having the humility to think of others better than ourselves.” He continues by writing, “So what does it look like to live a life worthy of the gospel of Jesus Christ? It looks like walking with, loving with, and doing life with those who are different from you.” (emphasis mine) Maybe if we stop browbeating and begin loving our fellow man–especially the ones we do not understand–our message could truly be heard. For those “in the church” not quite living like I think they should, may I remember to “be patient for He is not finished with me yet,” either!
I thank you Father for your promise to provide wisdom when we ask and seek honestly. Thank you this wisdom is liberal and there is no “put down” for not knowing! Thank you for patiently helping me to see the error of my own thinking and for revealing the lies I have believed, for seeing myself as better than others. Forgive me all unkindness displayed to those created in Your image. May I never forget this lesson. Thank you Father, the Holy Spirit is the One to show the world who You are and when I am willing, He will use me in the process. May the salt and light and LOVE of Christ be present wherever I go. I pray this in Jesus Holy and Majestic Name.
Treading in the Salt and Light,
Unspoken Call It Grace