December 22, 2010

To Live is Christ — passing on His love

Is it possible to treat everyone the same? Maybe, but the Lord knows that the treatment I receive from Christians who are walking with God will be different from those who are not. I will also be treated differently by unbelievers. Some are apathetic and walk right by. Others are antagonistic and look for a fight. Regardless, I’m supposed to bless all of them, no matter what they do to me.
Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. (1 Peter 3:8–9)
For Christians, like-mindedness is the goal. This is not thinking the same, but having a big heart concerning our differences. I must be sympathetic toward those who need sympathy, and love everyone because everyone needs love.

I’m not to harden my heart toward other people either, no matter what they do. I think of what would have happened had God hardened His heart toward me. I’m no better than others, and certainly no more deserving of his grace. Humility comes easy when I remember what I once was, and what I would be without Christ.

No matter what other Christians do, I must remember that we are never enemies. Our enemy is the “accuser” who slanders us before God and puts similar thoughts in our heads. Nothing serves Satan’s purposes better than to pit Christians against each other.

Then there are people in the world who hate Christianity, but they are not our enemies either. The Bible says their minds have been blinded by the real enemy. For that reason, I’m not to return their animosity or get into name-calling or arguments with them.

I felt like it this week. A letter to the editor in our newspaper told of a woman who was horrified that her child happened to see a nativity scene. Another woman is pushing for schools without religion, particularly Christianity. These stories made my emotions rise.

However, instead of writing a letter or even grumbling in my mind, I decided to pray for these people. Do they not realize what happens to a nation who abandons God? Even those who do not know the Bible can see what pushing God out has done in countries like Russia and North Korea.

Yet the Bible says that the “god of this world has blinded their minds.” What could be worse? They do not know that they do not know. Blind people need a blessing, not retaliation. They need the Light of the World to shine into their hearts, not a tongue-lashing. They need to see the goodness that God can produce in a sinner’s heart, not an argument from the “religious right” nor a loudly proclaimed judgment shoved down their throat.

I try to put myself in the shoes of a spiritually blind person. It is impossible, but I can remember the way I was before God saved me. Indifferent at best, proud and filled with self-centeredness to the point of being obnoxious at worst. I also remember the Christians. Those I knew were kind. They included me. They never yelled at my excuses or made fun of my ignorance. Not one of them ever made me think that being a Christian was a terrible idea.

Giving the love of God to others might be a challenge if those others are evil, mouthy, or mocking me. Nevertheless, the same love God gives me is not only for other believers, but for those who do not know Him or even have a desire to know Him. His is an unconditional love, not earned, not deserved, but demonstrated by Jesus Christ in sacrifice and in incredible kindness and grace. To this I am also called.

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