Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Love in the Truth

"Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Him who is the Head, that is, Christ."
            Ephesians 4:15 NIV

This past week, our pastor talked about three things in reference to how we handle one another, both Christ-follower and non.  We must be humble, be gentle, and be patient with one another in everything we do.  It's hard to do.  It's VERY hard to do. Especially when we feel we have been wronged by someone else. But let us flip that coin over and step into the shoes of someone who does not know Christ and see what they see, because many of them feel as though they have been slighted by Christians.

I can remember many times when I first became a Christ follower, when I would go out with groups called FAITH outreach teams.  With these teams, we would go into people's homes and begin to almost badger them about their faith, what they believed, how they came to that conclusion, and most of all, where they stood in their decision to follow or not follow Christ's calling in their life. Most of these individuals had never been to church before, and most were unfamiliar with the teachings of the Bible, besides a few of the stories they may have heard as kids.

I remember one particular visit with a person we will call Mr. Smith. We were invited into Mr. Smith's house just to sit and talk with him about life and Christ. At first, he really had no reservations with us being there, but as time progressed and the conversation turned more towards how he felt about his relationship with Christ (after just a few visits to our church), even I began to feel very uncomfortable with where our team leader was taking the conversation. I felt as though Mr. Smith was being brow-beaten into making a decision to follow Christ.  In all honesty, it was a guilt trip, and I was being dragged along for the ride. It left a bad taste in my mouth about evangelism and reaching out to those who do not know Christ. I began to second guess my own purpose in bringing people to Christ. And, I began to look at the world from their shoes.  How would I feel if someone almost became belligerent towards me and where I stood in my walk? I began to see Christ's world in a whole new light.

Christ's love transcends all we will ever know about Him and the Truth. The Truth about Christ is love. There is no greater commandment from Christ than to love others.  When it comes to those who don't follow Christ, it's not up to us to make sure they go to heaven.  If that is what we are concerned about, that is when the light of the conversation turns from the individual, to us.  It becomes about our security and feelings of self worth in Christ and we lose focus on our basic purpose: to "speak the truth in love." To be sure, God wants us to tell everyone we can about Christ and the Truth.  But, he wants us to leave that person's decision between them and Him.  That is where we end and He begins.  That is where Christ is more powerful and persuasive than we could ever be. From that point on, it is our duty to love them, guide them and nurture them, but not to force or coerce.  Coercion may work in an interrogation to get information from someone, but coercion never worked when trying to make someone make a decision in life. Most times, it just forces them to go in the opposite direction. It hurts more than it helps.

We are called to love, and that is what we must do.  Be humble in our humanity, be gentle in our approach to those who don't know Christ's love, and be patient in God's timing for them. We MUST speak in love.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013


"....When you believed, you were marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,/ who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance......"  Ephesians 1:13-14

Today I had a moment.  It wasn't a moment where the heavens opened, velvet ropes parted, and the light of God shown down in my office.  It was as quiet a moment as when Jesus Christ came into our world.  At this moment, I realized that I had been portraying the true symbol of my faith completely wrong.

When Jesus died for our sins on the cross, he died as a servant to us.  He showed the world what it meant to give up ourselves and follow the Father. His death AND REsurrection showed us that God was for real and that He was going to do all He ever said He would do. Jesus Christ then became the symbol of our faith, NOT THE CROSS.

Too many times, we as Christ followers use the cross as a symbol of our faith.  But the problem with using the cross as our symbol means we only understand half the story.  Anyone can die and become a martyr to a cause.  Then whatever may have caused their death may come to symbolize their legacy.  The problem with the cross as the symbol is that the story of our faith did not end there.  It began when Jesus Christ came back to life on the third day.  Without the REsurrection, our faith is baseless and has no more merit to the world than the death of John F Kennedy or Joan of Arc.

Now you might be thinking, "what this has to do with the verse above?"  Well, if Jesus Christ is the symbol of our faith, the Holy Spirit is the part of the Trinity that seals us for eternity and permanently marks us as His.  That seal takes the form of actions, words, deeds, love, kindness, forgiveness, compassion, service and so much more that we live on a daily basis.  Our lives become the outward portrayal of the seal of the Holy Spirit. We become marked and the world will not know it from something physical, but from something much greater than that:  a life bent on service to God and others.  The seal cannot be hidden when we have truly put Jesus Christ as the only symbol of our lives, and we take the seal of the Holy Spirit as the Father has given us.

So I ask, can the world see that you are sealed with the Holy Spirit and do YOU see Jesus Christ as the symbol of your faith?