The past few months, I’ve felt without words. I don’t know how to explain it, but every time I would sit down to write, I felt like every thought spinning around my head suddenly vanished. It was pretty frustrating because I didn’t know what was wrong. I’m the girl with usually TOO MUCH to say. Anyways, here I am, almost four and a half months since I last wrote, with something to say.
Growing up as a Christian, being in church every week, and even going to a Christian school for most of my education really helped me know all the “right answers”. I learned about Adam and Eve, the fall into sin, about the Old Testament’s heroes like David and Esther, Jesus’ death that demonstrated His awesome love for us, and how Paul told us to love the church and body of believers. I understood all that and everything in between.
It wasn’t until real life and conviction set in that I realized my knowledge meant nothing if I didn’t LIVE IT.
For those of you who know me, you know I’m loud, often outspoken, bold, and even quick to judge. The past year of my life has really humbled me reserve judgement for the Lord to deal with, but that’s a whole story I’m not going to go into here. But, God gave me these qualities for a reason, and I believe I’m stewarding them the best way I can, by sharing my pain, thoughts, and experience. Bear with me while I note some of my general observations. Obviously, these all don’t apply to every person equally, but as sinners, we all struggle with these things to a degree. If you can’t admit to any of the statements I write below, I urge you to really check your heart and ask God to show you what you need to be aware of.
When I look around at the people around me, at the world at large, and even at myself at times, I DO NOT SEE a people committed to love.
I do not see people building each other up the way it commands us in Hebrews and 1 Thessalonians. Instead, I see how quick people are to tear down, discourage, and demonstrate envy.
I do not see people forgiving the way Jesus commands in Matthew 18:22. Instead, I see people using the “three strikes and your out” model for forgiveness.
I do not see people seeking to understand and hear others out like it talks about in James 1. Instead, I see people very quick to anger, quickly to speak out of pre-conceived notions of others, and very reluctant to truly LISTEN.
I do not see people confronting biblically like it lays out in Matthew 18:15-20. Instead, I see people talking to others “in concern” for another, or even out of frustration for another person, when it’s really just flat out gossip. Fake “concern” doesn’t fool God; He knows the true condition of our hearts.
I do not see people making an active choice to give the Lord His rightful role as judge. Instead, I see people trying to judge as if they aren’t sinners themselves like it talks about in Romans 2.
I do not see people encouraging others genuinely. Instead, I see toxicity and jealousy towards people succeeding.
I do not see people loving others of all different backgrounds. Instead, I see people stick to their “in group” because its comfortable; never deciding to hear people out and consider our own biases that probably need tweaking.
I do not see people just trusting each other and giving the benefit of the doubt. Instead, I see people demanding explanations and believing the worst-case scenario automatically.
I do not see people loving each other SACRIFICIALLY, HUMBLY, or GRACIOUSLY. Instead, I see people loving to receive love or some benefit in return, loving to be praised or acknowledged by others, and loving out of self-serving reasons. I’ll be the first to admit that I really struggle with this.
2018 has really shaken me up as a whole. I came into this year very confident of how my relationship with God was growing, what I believed was right and wrong, and how my friendships were deepening. Not that I didn’t grow in my walk with the Lord or with my friendships, but I think I just had a different idea of how this year would turn out. Typical and ironic of how my power struggle of trying to control my own life always turns out. God wins every time. Someday I’ll get it.
Anyways, I’ve never been so smacked in the face with how I’m called and COMMANDED to love as I have been this year. In that, I’ve become so much more attune to how we as Christians are just doing it wrong a lot of the time. This is why I’m writing this today. Because I think it’s healthy to have a wake up call every now and then.
Because we have been saved by grace through faith, so that we cannot boast in anything on our own merit, we were given NEW LIFE. We were and still are the recipients of the greatest love story mankind has ever seen; when God sent the love of His life, His own perfect son, to die for ALL OF US so that we could have a restored relationship with God again. In receiving this great gift, we are also given a calling and a purpose; to go and make disciples, and letting our love demonstrate the same love our Father has for us.
In Acts 17:26-27, it says, “From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, for he is not far from any one of us.”
We are commanded to live lives worthy of our calling as a Christian, while having our love be GENUINE. When I am faced with this fact and do some self-checking, am I consistently loving the way Jesus loved? Am I living a life WORTHY of my calling? No, not even close. But it should be the goal behind everything we do.
If loving how Christ loved isn’t on our minds every day, in every friendship and interaction, with every situation, then we need to take some time to remember, and re-focus.
I get it. LOVING PEOPLE IS HARD. It’s easy to love those who love you back, that you have a relationship with, most of the time. But it’s tough to love those who are hard to love.
Yet, we have a responsibility to do this. And so many of us FORGET that responsibility and resort to the conditional love this world operates by.
Christians, we’re better than this.
How often are we compromising any witness we have by turning our backs on others? How often do we choose to ignore, shame, and reject people who are hard to love? That we deem “unworthy”?
It begs the question if we really understand the love of God if this is how we are consistently operating.
No sin is any worse than another. In fact, no one IS their sin or mistakes, or should be regarded as such. No person is “less worthy” than anyone else.
God isn’t choosy with His grand love. So why are we?
We like to take authority in a way we were never created to hold when we choose to love certain people, but hold back on others. We so often look at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. What if we fully loved like God loves? Could you imagine how many more people would experience the love of God, rather than spiral into lives of shame? It baffles me sometimes how we desire to do huge things for the kingdom, bring people to Christ, but refuse to just LOVE PEOPLE the way Christ loves them.
In the book of Hosea, God commands Him to go and marry a prostitute, Gomer, who will betray him. This man of God, marrying a prostitute. Everyone thought he was crazy. When she betrayed him, God commanded him to go AGAIN and love her. There’s something about this type of love that is heroic and truly humble. I see this story and think, “wow, this is how the God of the Universe loves me. He goes again and again to love me when I disappoint him, turn my back on him, and hurt him. This is real love.” But that’s not the end of it. God gave us stories like this for a REASON, because this is how He commands us to operate day in and day out, with all people, from all different walks of life, backgrounds, and experiences.
We have the privilege using love to point people to Jesus, yet we so often forget. Let’s choose to remember and love differently, instead.