Not the Sin Police

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Who doesn’t love John 3:16?

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (NASB)
But, what about verse 17?

“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (NASB)

If Jesus, God in the flesh, didn’t come to condemn, to judge, the world, why do we think it is our job? I have been hearing and reading a lot about this lately. Which probably means that God is getting tired of our pharisaical and judgmental behavior. He is bringing some correction to His body. The whole reason that Jesus came was to fulfill the law, it is now done away with. So why do we try to hold people to certain rules and regulations. The Apostle Paul even said that to those who have surrendered to Christ, all things are legal, though not all beneficial. Yet we judge each other and even worse we judge the world. I have said it before and I will say it again, speaking into someone’s life that you are in relationship with,  pointing out some errors and even giving Godly council, is not judging! The difference between judging (condemnation) and interceding is all in the motivation. We don’t accept sinful behavior, we don’t say it is “ok,” but we do accept people who are bound in sin. We love them!

I thought that I was getting better at the not judging, being more loving. Then God brought some things to my attention, not by pointing out the condition  of my heart, but by bringing some things before my eyes. For months, maybe even a year or two, I have been struggling with how to love and accept homosexuals without accepting their lifestyle.  Then this whole Bruce Jenner thing had me recoiling in disgust. I won’t mention the things I was thinking and some things that were even said in private to my husband, but when I saw similar words written on social media by other Christians, I can’t describe what I felt. It was close to sorrow and embarrassment for my thoughts and word, and for the Body of Christ. Where was the love that Jesus talked about so often? Where was the goodness of God turning hearts to repentance?

A young family member, who struggles with the judgment of other Christians, he professes his love for God and his homosexual nature, posted something on his facebook page. It said, “Live your life in such a way that the Westboro Baptist Church will want to picket your funeral.” For those of you who may not know, members of this church, who call themselves Christians, go to funerals of homosexual service men and woman and disrupt the funeral by shouting and carrying signs. The words are full of hate, “God hates gays,” “Gays go to Hell,” and other such un-Christ-like verbiage. They have offended me from day one and I fully applauded those so called hard core bikers who surrounded those funerals and kept the families separated from the ugly behavior as much as they could. So, though I am filled with righteous anger at the actions of this church, I was saddened by the quote this young man shared. I did comment saying that I would prefer to live my life in such a way that my funeral would be a celebration of a daughter going home to daddy. His comment to this was, “The problem is that many Christians do not share the love that Jesus represented. They choose to be one sided. I love God & try to work on myself daily & fail daily. But no one is going to come to Jesus when hate is preached. I love everyone & just wish Christians would share the love that Jesus instructed them to.” That got me thinking even more.

We fail as the body of Christ if we can’t reach out to hurting, broken people (you know the way we were before) with the love of Christ. Jesus’ great commission was not to “point out peoples sin, set yourself above them, call them names and hate and revile them.” No, He said to And then he told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone.” (NLT) What’s the “good news?” That God loves sinners! He doesn’t care what you’ve done, He loves you. He knows what your gonna do and He still loves you. He knows every one of your deep dark secrets and guess what? HE LOVES YOU. How many people have the Westboro Baptist Church led to Christ? I am not talking about their twisted followers who just want to jump on the bandwagon of hate, but true surrendered hearts to the Lordship of Jesus.

Jesus, when all others were condemning a woman caught in adultery said these words, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.” (KJB John 8:7a-11) Basically He told the people that if they were without sin, than to go ahead and condemn her to death, as that was the law. However, they each knew that they had some type of sin in their lives. He seeing they had left assured her that He wouldn’t condemn her, but he left her with the words, “Go and sin no more.” He didn’t tell her that her behavior was acceptable. He loved her, treated her with dignity and respect, and sent her on her way. He didn’t have to tell her what she was doing was wrong. She already knew it.

If we look at the whole passage in John 3:16-21  “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” It is their lack of belief in Jesus that condemns them. They are already judged, we don’t have to do it. Our job is to show them the way out of their sentence, whether we think they deserve the sentence or not. We need to show them their advocate, Jesus.

That young man was right, no one is going to come to God when hate is preaches. They won’t if it is practiced either.

So what do we do? Well, to begin with I prayed about it. Then I did something I don’t always take the time to do. I listened for God’s answer. Can you guess what He said? Yep, He told me to love them and He promised to give me His love to do it with. Pretty simple huh?

Next time you want to point out someone’s sin and you aren’t their mother or father, mentor, or close friend, don’t do it. Instead talk about how much you love them, or how much God loves them. It’s a better way. It’s what Jesus did. In fact He is still doing it.

 

Letting Love Motivate Us-Part II

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I think about the prophets in the Old Testament. They lived in a time when God’s chosen people were in blatant sin and rebellion. They had broken every command that God had given and on top of that had made idols with their own hands, worshipped the false gods of the nations around them, even going as far as offering their own children to the god Molech by casting them into the furnace. These profits had to preach a ‘turn or burn’ message. These were the words that God gave them to speak. But those men, most of them, prayed for mercy, wept and lamented over the sin of their people, sorrowed over their sure destruction. What kept them motivated? God’s promises. His promise to Abraham that he would father a great nation. His promise to David, that one of his descendants would sit on the throne forever. God’s promise to save a remnant who He would bring back to the Beautiful City, Jerusalem, and His promise of a savior, the Messiah. The promise of His continued love, to those who did as He commanded.

We have it so much easier. We don’t have to shave our heads, cook over cow dung, marry a prostitute, tell our families and neighbors that the enemy will triumph over them, will dash their babies to peices. We get to tell them that God loves them, wants to bless them. Our object lesson is LOVE. We get to show them how much they mean to the one who created them. We can’t be like Jonah, with his attitude of, “they should get what they deserve.” He is a great example of a prophet that was NOT motivated by love. God had to force him to go and tell Nineveh that He was giving them another chance.

God never asked us to quote scripture at people. We use scripture to learn about God, and who He is, encourage ourselves and one another, those in our family, who know the language of heaven. We use them to declare God’s will over our lives and those of others. Quoting scripture to someone who isn’t saved is like speaking French to a Mexican, they aren’t going to understand what you are talking about. God did ask us to show people how much He loves them. It is important we know scripture, that we are intimate with the Word. But that isn’t so that we can prove our expertise and by our understanding of scripture somehow convince the lost of God’s love. They don’t recognize God’s word as TRUTH. They don’t know it’s alive and living. Think of it this way. If you told your husband at the breakfast table that it was against Canadian law to eat toast on Tuesdays, what would he say. “I’m not Canadian.” Or if one of your children tells a friend, “you can’t watch that pg13 movie, my dad doesn’t allow it” what would you expect the friend to say? “He’s not my dad.” So why do we think giving an unsaved person scripture about do’s and don’ts will convince them they need to be saved. They aren’t part of the same family, or a citizen of heaven like we are.

There are Churches who quote scripture, (mostly out of context) who are portraying God as a hard task master who is ready to punish them for their sin or who hates them because of their sin. They interrupt funerals of fallen military men and women, screaming at mourning family members. They stand on street corners and spout off about the end of the world, doom and destruction. How many people are they bringing into the Kingdom. The media depicts God as a foolish old man, or an angry deity ready with a bolt of lightning. They depict Christians as bigots, and self-righteous, and unforgiving people. Or even worse, they show us as the crazy psycho people who live in corn fields, killing torturing others.

We are all appalled by those things, but is it any better when we turn a cold shoulder to someone in need? When we are more concerned with how someone looks or smells, than the condition of their soul? How are we portraying God when we are too distracted to help, too busy to go out of our way for someone who needs Him. God says that it is HIS GOODNESS that turns hearts to repentance. He uses us to show them His goodness.

I John 3:17 “If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?”

Hebrews 13:16 The Message (MSG) “ Make sure you don’t take things for granted and go slack in working for the common good; share what you have with others. God takes particular pleasure in acts of worship—a different kind of “sacrifice”—that take place in kitchen and workplace and on the streets.”

We all have ample opportunity to show God’s love. It starts in our homes and radiates out through our lives to those we touch in small ways throughout our days. We have to be ‘rooted and grounded’ in His love. If we aren’t we’ll reflect the world around us, instead of the Father’s heart. God’s love is ‘shed abroad’ in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Not confined in a closet. Shed abroad. Scattered to the wind, cast on many waters, an endless supply, and more than we will ever need. His love doesn’t run out. It is there for us personally, and then more for us to share. We can’t always love people with our own human emotions, let’s face it, some people are hard to love. But we can always love people with His love. It isn’t an emotion. It is a gift, we just have to choose to use it.

Sometimes we can backslide into a place where we aren’t motivated by love anymore. We may be working out of a sense of duty or for self seeking reasons. A good litmus test is found in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:

The Message (MSG)
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

Have you given up on someone? Do you look back on their past mistakes? Are you waiting for them to fail? Do you lose patience and are easily irritated with others? (That was a big one for me!) Are you filled with pride and self-righteousness? Do you put yourself constantly before others? (Now I am not saying don’t take care of yourself, especially you mom’s, we have to have time for us and down time, that’s not what I am talking about). If you answered yes to any of these things, or all of these things, then check your motives.
We know we are walking in love when we expect the best for others, put them first and keep going, keep praying for them.

Isn’t that what God has done, and continues to do for us?

Letting Love Motivate Us- Part I

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The most important truth available to us today is this: GOD LOVES US.
He loves you, He loves me.

One of the most familiar verses in the Bible is –
John 3:16 (KJV) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

How many of us wish we had a dollar for every time we have heard it, said it, read it (even on t-shirts and cardboard signs at football games)? God so loved the world! He loves the lonely single parent, the latch key kid, the grieving widow, the gay couple next door, and even the child molester. God loves people! We have heard countless messages on God’s love for us. So we know, at least in our heads, that God IS Love. But it isn’t until we hit those road bumps of life that our belief in that love is tested.

God doesn’t stop loving us, ever. We may go through hard times, even horrible things, but His love is still there. We may not understand why we have to face such trials, other than the fact that we do live in a fallen world, with a real enemy, and awful things happen to people. Those people, won’t get saved hearing a ‘turn or burn’ message. In fact the few ‘turn and burn’ messages in the bible, weren’t given to the lost, but to religious people. The lost will come into the family of God when they really believe that He loves them.
How will they know that He loves them?

Leviticus 10:17-18 (NIV) “‘Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt. Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD.”

And Mark 12:31 (NIV), The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

So it starts with two things, we have to love God, and we have to love ourselves. For some of us it is easy to love God, but loving ourselves is a whole different matter. We know us. We know what ugly things we did, the ugly thoughts we have had, those things we don’t want anyone else to know. But it is part of the command. If you have a hard time loving yourself, then you haven’t been listening to God. He has wonderful things to say about you. Find out what He says about you, how He feels about you, what He plans for you. You’ll find it much easier to love yourself. We have to change our ungodly thought patterns into Godly thought patterns. Ungodly thoughts say “I am no good, no one loves me.” Godly thoughts say, “I am accepted in the beloved and God loves me.”

Jesus’ says in John 13:34-35 (NIV) “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

After loving God, and learning to love ourselves, we must love one another. If we can’t love our brother and sisters in Christ how can we love those that are lost and without hope. We always think of loving others as a new commandment, but God commanded Israel, in the book of the law (we just read it) to love your neighbor as yourself. My opinion is that part that is “new” is our loving the way Jesus loves us, unconditionally, without restraint or strings attached. It has always been a command of God. Of course, He’s all about love!

Now, we come to the part where the world can see the love of God. They see it by our love, for God, for ourselves, for the family of God, and for them. We can’t stop at any of these steps. If we learn to love God with our whole heart, we won’t be able to stop! God’s love compels us to love others. But if we get hung up on just trying to love ourselves or other Christians, how will those who really need to know about His love ever experience it?

Ephesians 2:10, (KJV) “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

We have to show them the love of our Father. We need to be a reflection of His love.

Ephesians 2:1-7, 10 (AMP) “And you [He made alive], when you were dead (slain) by [your] trespasses and sins. In which at one time you walked [habitually]. You were following the course and fashion of this world [were under the sway of the tendency of this present age], following the prince of the power of the air. [You were obedient to and under the control of] the [demon] spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience [the careless, the rebellious, and the unbelieving, who go against the purposes of God]. Among these, we as well as you, once lived and conducted ourselves in the passions of our flesh [our behavior governed by our corrupt and sensual nature], obeying the impulses of the flesh and the thoughts of the mind [our cravings dictated by our senses and our dark imaginings]. We were then by nature children of [God’s] wrath and heirs of [His] indignation, like the rest of mankind. But God—so rich is He in His mercy! Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us, Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation). And He raised us up together with Him and made us sit down together [giving us joint seating with Him] in the heavenly sphere [by virtue of our being] in Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed One). He did this that He might clearly demonstrate through the ages to come the immeasurable (limitless, surpassing) riches of His free grace (His unmerited favor) in [His] kindness and goodness of heart toward us in Christ Jesus.”

Our acceptance off all God’s goodness shows by example God’s love to the world.

Verse 10 again in the Amplified. “For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].”

We were predestined to demonstrate the riches of his kindness and the goodness of His heart. God is our Father, we are His children and this is our “family business.” He has already given us the gifts and talents to do this. We have all of heaven at our disposal to show the world how much He loves them.

Just doing good works isn’t enough. We have to let love motivate our good works. If we work to try to earn God’s favor, we are building with wood, hay and stubble.

Matthew 6:1(New Living), “”Watch out! Don’t do your good deeds publicly, to be admired by others, for you will lose the reward from your Father in heaven.”

Verse 16, (New Living), “And when you fast, don’t make it obvious, as the hypocrites do, for they try to look miserable and disheveled so people will admire them for their fasting. I tell you the truth, that is the only reward they will ever get.”

God’s word is clear, our motives are important. If we work so other can see us and praise us or admire us, then their praise and admiration are our only rewards. It isn’t pleasing God, or building with anything that will last through the storms. We can bully, beg and harass someone into saying the sinners prayer, but are they really saved? How does that portray God? As someone who doesn’t really care about them, someone who just cares about numbers-how many people I converted today.

Please read Letting Love Motivate Us Part II Tomorrow.