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.