You ever get a thought in your head and then it just starts popping up everywhere? Or at least you start seeing other people’s thoughts that are related to it somehow?
I have had a blog post simmering in my brain for a few days now (I like to let them simmer to make sure they are cooked all the way before sending them out to the consumer. No salmonella here!) As I was sitting on it, I saw two different posts, one on my friend’s blog and one on the book of faces, that lined up. I will share them at the bottom of this post so you can get those guys’ takes as well.
If you know me in real life, you know one of my favorite things to say is, ” We need to love like Jesus.” As children of God, we are called to be imitators of Him (Ephesians 5:1-2) We are to show the world the grace and mercy and love of Jesus. How many times are we told not that God loves us, but that He IS love? It’s not just what He does, it is who He is. And Jesus is our walking example of God on earth. We look to Him to see how to act, how to treat others, how to live our lives.
You know what one of my favorite things about Jesus is? He loved the unlovable and touched the untouchable. The “sinners” that were outcast by others. The diseased. The rough around the edges. He showed them the same love and mercy that He shows us. He didn’t “preach at” them. Yes, He instructed them to “Go and sin no more,” (John 8:11), but He spoke to them with love and encouragement. He gently and lovingly drew them to Him. He showed them that He was the Light and the Life and the Truth.
Where are the examples we have of Jesus being harsh? When He is speaking to the religious leaders. Those who used their stature as religious leaders to look down on others, who made others feel bad about themselves. Who maybe technically followed the rules, but found the loopholes and acted with impure hearts and impure motives. He rebuked them for exalting themselves, for being hypocrites, and for neglecting justice, mercy, and faith. (Matthew 23)
Did we get it backward somewhere along the way?
How many times do we speak harshly to those who desperately need to know the love and mercy of Jesus? Instead of showing them how He is our Intercessor, we make Him out to be this judge with scales, waiting to weigh our sins against our good deeds. We tell them “He paid it all” and we claim to have “blessed assurance”, but we act like we have to live perfectly to gain His acceptance. We read them the passage of the Great Physician (Matthew 9:9-13), but we tell them they have to change themselves before they come to Him instead of coming to Him sick and letting Him heal them.
Then how often do we place on a pedestal those who, like the Pharisees, seem to say and do the right things, but it still just feels wrong? Because their hearts and motives are not coming from the right place. Their teaching and worship is loud and boastful, but empty of emotion and authenticity. Also, when they claim to have no assurance of whether they will be with Jesus in heaven, it makes those who are weak in the faith doubt themselves, and they are being mislead by those who claim to be strong in the faith. We should also treat them with love and mercy, being an example to them and showing them the Truth of who God is.
We are called to show the world the grace and mercy and love of Jesus. How can they see it in us when we aren’t assured of it? Maybe the reason more people don’t follow Jesus is because they sense the hesitancy in us, the uncertainty we have in our own salvation, the fear of a harsh Lord. I know my Jesus loves me, and I know He forgives my shortcomings. I have the blessed assurance in His love, grace, and mercy, and my hope is in Him. Everything I do, is to try to show others who He is, what He has done for me, and what He can do for them, no matter where they are in life at this moment in time.
Jeremy shared this with me yesterday, that he had sent to someone else. He said, “Why can’t we just accept we are all in different mental spiritual places and just love and grow together. It’s like getting mad at your garden because it won’t grow like you want it to. Truth is it’s not our garden, it’s God’s. We just work it with small things that make a difference in the long run.” I thought that was beautiful. We continue to grow and show love to each other. Reaching back and lifting those who aren’t where we are yet, and reaching forward to grasp the hands of those who are ahead. Pruning what needs to be cut back. Adding fertilizer where growth needs to be encouraged. Stopping along the way to smell the sweet fragrance of a blooming bud, or the nourishing goodness of a ripe fruit. Tending God’s garden with love and care. Each of us using the gifts God’s Spirit has placed within us to help “motivate one another to acts of love and good works,” (Hebrew 10:24) and “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
I’m dedicated to keep working towards living my life in a fearless and joyful manner, showing others the Love, Light, and Truth of Jesus.
What say you?
Click here for Daniel Rogers’s Post on “Jesus Spends All Day Sweeping”, and read Daniel DeGarmo’s thoughts on preaching hope below.