We are to be light to a dark world, right? (Matt. 5:14-16)
So how do we do that practically?
How do we “go into all the world preaching the gospel” when we have a hard enough time getting our kids to go to church? (Mark 16:15)
How do we portray love when we often lack that vital ingredient? I don’t mean that we don’t love other people. I’m wondering how well we love the people who don’t share our values?
The other day God nudged me to go read at a coffee shop I rarely visit just to relax. It’s small, so the coffee grinder nearly reverberates inside your head.
Another couple came in and we got to chatting. They shared that they are both liberal, with one an atheist and the other leaning toward Buddhism.
Controversial topics came up in an off-hand way. If I had lacked love, a chasm of religious and philosophical differences would have opened up between us.
If I feared them or their belief systems, I would have mentally stepped into judgment and they would have felt disapproval rolling off me.
But instead I enjoyed getting to know them, without agenda. Just listening and caring.
Us Versus Them
I grew up in an “us” versus “them” church structure. The “world” was seen as dangerous for Christians. But I wonder if it’s because when you live in a rules-oriented environment, rather than in a relationship with a God who thinks you are amazing, temptations become stronger. So we start fearing the pull of the flesh.
But when we focus on discovering how amazing God thinks we are (rather than sin-management) and gaining our identity from His joy in us (rather than our failures), it’s not so hard to say no to harmful choices.
We are powerful people with an amazing identity. When we recognize this, people who are different than us don’t make us so uncomfortable.
Then we can be vessels of love.
God asks us to love, not judge. He is big enough and certainly powerful enough to defend Himself and His standards. And there are times He asks us to take a stand and be His voice.
We aren’t to lay down and let ungodly agendas win.
But there is a difference between fighting agendas and fighting people.
I just wonder if sometimes we are afraid that if we don’t defend God to the people around us, that they will think we agree with their sin. How many of our family members have truly changed their ways because of our disapproval?
Punishment is an ineffective behavior changer. But love is powerful.
Love creates a pathway for God to travel and touch people’s hearts.
There is a reason Jesus was considered a drunkard and a partier by the religiously correct of His day.
He wouldn’t have been embraced by the people the church rejected if they hadn’t felt loved and accepted.
As this couple and I chatted, I was able to share about a portion of my journey with God. While in college, I read in the Bible how God commanded His people to circumcise baby boys on their eighth day of life. I recalled how controlling that seemed. And dictatorial. Then in the proceeding weeks, a medical study came out stating how the eighth day of life was the safest day to perform a circumcision.
Wow! Suddenly I saw the love of God protecting His people who had no antibiotics or health care. And it struck the gal I spoke with as well.
God is looking for ways to love others through us, but we have to first know how loved we are.
Father God, teach me how to trust You at new levels. How to hold Your hand when life seems difficult or unfair. Let me see people through Your eyes. I want to love myself and others as You do. In Jesus name, amen.
Photos via Pixabay