Thursday, July 9, 2015
This time in America really has me chomping at the bit. I mean, seriously. I feel like I need to be standing outside with a megaphone saying all the right things to make sure Christians are heard, too. There's this ache in me to find the effective way to get people to see our hopes and fears. It's almost as if there's a nerve inside of me that's not quite where it's supposed to be and has me unsettled constantly. I'm reading blogs, looking into history, scribbling down ideas... Surely there's a mind blowing solution that's just buried somewhere under the jumbled up madness in my brain.
If there is, I haven't discovered it yet. I feel like I understand what not to do or say and how not to act or respond, but I want to do something. My pastor preached a message with so much substance a couple Sundays ago, it inspired me like nothing else ever has. Now What? How are we going to respond to the situations going on in the world today? What feelings are we going to allow to take over?
Simple. Relax and rejoice.
The Bible says to "Cast all our cares on Him," does it not? It also tells us to "Rejoice evermore!" We are to "Occupy until He comes,""Love our neighbor as ourselves," and "Go into all the world proclaiming the Gospel." We don't have time to bicker and argue. It's ineffective to throw Scriptures around at people, and it's not uplifting to constantly talk about the negativity that is rampant in the world. There's plenty of good to discuss!
I'm making it my mission to insure that love really does win. I want His love to radiate through my words, whether spoken or typed. As my pastor encouraged our congregation, I'm going to "soften the rhetoric," and respond the way He would. Just because we have an opinion, that doesn't mean we have to share it all the time. If it is appropriate to voice it, use meekness and gentleness.
I want to share an excerpt from a previous blog post I wrote several years ago, to help explain what I'm meaning here.
Let me start this post by saying that the most important aspect of my life, is Christ... and being more like Him with every breath I take in. I've attended church my whole life... for nearly 20 years... and I'm only 24... so that should give you an idea of how "churched" I am. I gave my heart to Christ when I was only seven. BUT... it seems like over the last two years or so, I've realized that being "churched" and being able to discuss my beliefs until I'm blue in the face is not what makes me a mature Christian.
Going back to a quote on facebook, a fellow youth leader here in DuQuoin, IL, Matt Schaub, said something along these lines... "I think it's funny that we Christians tend to base our maturity level on how much biblical knowledge we have, and how well we can argue our doctrines and theology. When, in fact, the truest measure of maturity comes from our character, integrity, and the depth of our love." I thought that was wonderfully put. I've been around countless people that could quote Scripture like they were looking right at the words on a page in their hand. I've witnessed several people debating why what they believed was right and the other was wrong. I've seen God's HOLY Word thrown around at people simply to prove a point. And as much as I absolutely abhor having to admit it, I was guilty of the above in times past. At the time, I didn't even realize how wrong it was... because, I... was a mature Christian. Right?
Wrong. The more I've learned to listen to Christ, the more I've read about Him and how He handled situations, the more I've realized just how much growing up I have to do. Now, I completely and totally believe that we should read and try to memorize as much Scripture as we can. The Bible even says to "hide it's words in your heart, that you might not sin against God." So I highly commend people who are able to. And I also believe that it's of the utmost importance that we study and learn why we believe what we do. The Word tells us that we need to be ready, so that if anyone asks us why we follow Him, we can give them an answer. But, more importantly It tells us that even if we get so spiritual and speak with tongues of angels... if we don't have love... it's of no use.
This morning, while praying about what to say regarding my devotion on friendship, the quote I shared above kept echoing in my mind. I began to think of the part that mentioned us measuring our Christian maturity on our ability to argue our doctrines and theology with all the Biblical knowledge we have. Almost instantly my thoughts went to Jesus and when He was taken before Pilate and the other rulers. The people were accusing Him of blasphemy... and wanted to kill Him for it. They were laughing Him to scorn and spitting on Him for "falsifying" His Godhood and they were denying His deity. They kept telling Him to say something to prove that He really was the Son of God. Well... HE IS THE WORD. We think we KNOW it... He IS it. And still, He "spoke not a word." Apparently, Jesus Christ felt that keeping a mouth closed, avoiding arguments, and simply showing humility and love would be a whole lot more effective. Wow... and yet, many Christians feel it is their duty and obligation to "blast" anyone who doesn't view things their way... or completely "understand" the Truth.
I believe with every bone in my body that the way to reach the lost, keep the saints, and encourage and comfort our friends is to simply show them LOVE. So many people want to toss love out, because of the views that have taken judgment completely out of their message. BUT, although God may be the Righteous Judge, God is Love just the same.
Christ did an awful lot more healing, delivering, forgiving, and loving than He did proving why He
was right with harsh words. I pray so earnestly that every day I will learn to love selflessly and sacrificially. I want to invest all I am into lives that He may be glorified and they may be helped. There will come a time when I may want to "make a withdrawal out of the friendship bank," and however much I've put in... well, that's all I'm getting out.
Love people. Be kind to people. Let's get back to the basics, and pull out the "treat others the way you want to be treated" Golden Rule. If you've already made the decision to accept Christ, then, please, be like Him. Love unconditionally. Give unselfishly. Listen understandingly. That's my Jesus.
If you're questioning, or flat out refusing, to believe on Him because of the way you've seen "His people" act and treat you... realize they're human and make mistakes... and just need to do some growing up. Pick up a Bible and discover Who Jesus really is. There's no one who could love you more, forgive you as often, or understand you as much as Him. I've got hurts, too, that were hard to get over... and that almost got me out. But, when I learned to put all my dependence and future solely in Jesus Christ... Wow... did things get a whole lot brighter a whole lot quicker. He makes me WANT to mature in Him. I want to be His reflection... and I pray that everyone out there carrying His name does the same."
I want to change the majority of the world's view on Christians. Does that mean I'm going to compromise? No. Does that mean I'm going to accept sin as okay? Nope. It simply means that I will strive to exhibit love in all things. Things that are disappointing or angering, things that bring me to tears... I still want Him to radiate through me.
I know there are many others out there that feel the same. So- again, it's my new mission to spread the good reports of His people. I'm taking the verse in Philippians 4:8 a little more seriously. I'm going to share the things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely... I'm searching for the good reports that can bring praise. I want to think on those things!
Over the next few weeks, that's what my blog posts will consist of. Help me out, friends! If you have a story, (preferably one with pictures or video), share away! I want to change the perspective on Christians. We are human. We make mistakes. We can have attitudes, say rude things, and we can respond in harsh manners when we allow our flesh to win. But, just as the majority wants to report those incidents... I'm going to broadcast who we really are... when we remember Whose we are.