Faith In Love

Monday, April 9, 2012

So if you didn't read the first post, you might want to start with How He Loves.  Or maybe not.  Your call.  But I said there would be more, and there definitely will be.  But I'm telling you right now, you might not like it.  But just give it a chance, ok?

When it comes to happenings on Facebook, I am guilty...of thinking I'm better friends with people than I am, of sometimes not paying as much attention as I should, of going along with whatever is happening, just because it's happening.  I mean, no, if all of my friends were jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge, of course I wouldn't.  But if they were all talking about it on Facebook?  You bet I'd be talking about it too.  Just how it goes.  So last week, when two friends posted an article for comments, I noticed.  Partly because of who the friends were, partly because of the title, partly because these two individuals happen to be at opposite ends of the theological spectrum.  

So here it is...

Obviously, I was curious.  You are too.  Or, you're outraged at this point and have stopped reading.  It's fine.  But I read it.  And then I read it again.  And one more time just for good measure.

And really, I could not agree with the message of this article more.  Here it is...hate, bullying, judgment, and hypocrisy are not, nor have they ever been, God-pleasing activities. It's "I'm Christian and love everyone, unless ___________."  Whether it's gay people or fat people or homeless people or whatever, Christians far too often pretend to love and use that "love" to separate themselves from people who aren't as good, don't measure up, say the wrong things, wear the wrong clothes, whatever.  No one who walks through the doors of a church or pretends to love Jesus can do these things, because His love overcame hate.  If you grew up going to church, chances are you've been on both sides of this.  You didn't include someone who never did anything wrong, and you were excluded without good reason.  None of us is good enough for the love of Jesus.  That's what makes it so spectacular.

Living in New York means I have a lot of friends who are very different than I am.  Live different lifestyles, practice different faiths, don't necessarily do the things I think are right or wrong.  Tim Keller, the preacher at Redeemer Presbyterian Church where I've been going lately, said this in church yesterday: that most young New Yorkers think of Jesus as a combination of Religion 101 and The Da Vinci Code.  And people, it's pretty much true.  Think about how scary those two things could be...probably why they all go to brunch instead of church.  But I know this...that everyone is a sinner, and that my sin is just as bad as every other person among the nine million on this island.  But Jesus paid it all.

"For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we've compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we're in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ. God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public - to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured."  (Romans 3:22-25)

God hates sin.  But He does love sinners.  Hates bullying.  Still loves the bully.

I still do some things on Easter, just because that's what we always did on Easter.  It's a Baptist kid thing.    Part of me doesn't feel like it's Easter unless I've done the following four things: worn new clothes to church (preferably pink, yellow, or purple), sang "Christ the Lord is Risen Today," eaten an inappropriate amount of Mom's scalloped potatoes, and unwrapped a few pink Peeps.  So yesterday I did all of those things (even made the scalloped potatoes for myself).  But regardless of all my Baptist kid tendencies, that's not really what it's about, is it?

Easter, Jesus, is all love, all the time.  It is not, go to church with people who are just like you and exclude all the others.  It is not, pretend to do and say all the right things.  It is definitely not, "I am so good for going to church and everyone else is a heathen...Jesus must love me more."  But how often do we pretend like it is?  We are so wrong.

It is extravagant, unswerving, unwarranted, unconditional love.  

"Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.  And the best of the three is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13)

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