With so many contradicting messages blasting through our world right now, it’s easy to be confused about what to think. Who’s sharing truth and who’s manipulating people’s emotions?
As someone who loves Jesus, the saddest aspect to me is when I see or hear about proclaimed followers of Jesus arguing about politics, doctrine, and their own opinions. Are we adding to the confusion or showing a hurting and broken world faith, hope, and most importantly, love?
Accusing various believers or specific organizations of not being righteous or godly because they worship differently, pray silently or openly, baptize in various ways, support a political party, or wear masks (or not) divides us and drives us into confusion rather than the unity that Jesus desires for us.
The first and most important issue is whether we acknowledge Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. When we receive his gracious gift of laying his life down for our sinfulness, we are part of a family. That’s good news no matter how we receive it—whether in a church service, at a beach worship time, or in our bedroom, car, or shower. We might be homeless in an alley or looking at a sunset when we realize the love of God for us and choose to follow him.
After that, Jesus gave us some pretty clear and simple instructions for the rest of life.
- Love him. He loved us first. He gave his life and longs for us to respond to his love.
- Love ourselves. We are created and loved by God. He has a great plan for us. Treat ourselves kindly.
- Love others. We’re all created and loved by God. When we realize we’re loved, we can extend that love.
- Seek God first. Everything else falls into place when we do.
- Live humbly. While we have our own thoughts and opinions, so do others. God is God. We’re not.
- Speak the truth in love. Be honest with ourselves and others always.
- Mercy over judgement. God forgave us. Forgive others, and let God be the only judge.
- Grace, not deeds. God’s showed us grace when we were a mess not because we did something right. Be gracious to others in the same way.
I’ve been guilty of seeking my way, thinking my way is the only way, judging others, and not wanting to show grace or forgive.
We all have.
But when we get caught up in whether others are doing it our way, or sharing our opinions, or applying God’s word differently than we think it should be interpreted, we divide rather than unite.
God says a house divided can’t stand. So naturally that’s the enemy’s plan. If he can use us in the church to divide the church, then it’s a win, win for him.
And a loss for us and for those who don’t know Jesus yet and are turned off by our portrayal of him.
We have to let go of ourselves. Our agendas. The way we think things should be done.
Die to self is what Jesus calls it.
Not because he doesn’t want us to be the thinking, creating, unique individuals that he designed us to be, but because he wants us to be free to live fully in those ways. And his plans give us so much more than we can secure for ourselves.
When he increases in our lives, and our broken, self-focused, my-way-is-best decreases, we can walk in love. Loving him, loving us, loving others. Loving life.
And the world will know that Jesus is Lord, and he SO loves them.