I am finishing the book For the Love, by Jen Hatmaker. It has been a good reminder to not grow complacent in my faith, letting it grow lukewarm. But I don’t just want to walk away from the book thinking that it was just “good.” I want to walk away changed, challenged. Yes, encouraged is good, but if this faith is supposed to be the same as the one in the First Century, then there is serious work to do.
The First Century church was busy turning the world on its ear. Women were teaching, ministering, and drawing people to Jesus- right alongside their Christian brothers (Luke 8:1-3). People were being told to love their enemies and to pray for those who persecuted them (Matthew 5:44). There was a sense of community and togetherness (Acts 2:42-47) in a culture of separatism. The idea of a man who would die for those who hated Him, who then was buried and came back to life three days later- this was something to study, something to investigate (Acts 2:22-24).
If I am saying, ‘I belong to Jesus,” then my actions need to back that up. Otherwise, I am just full of useless air. I can say, “I love my church,” but if I don’t follow that up with, “I love those who are outside of the church, too,” then I am being judgmental and critical. It’s easy to love those who are like me. But Jesus died for everyone, not just those who are like me. If I am saying I want to love like Jesus did, then I need to be loving on those who may be unlike me.
What does that look like? Well, it means that I will need God to open my eyes to see the world as He does. To see the outsiders, the lonely, the oppressed, the hurting, and see them as He sees them- precious children for whom His Son died. To take the time to sit down with the person and get to know them. Or it could be helping someone with yard work, meeting his or her needs in a tangible way.
Jesus’ love and sacrifice are sometimes too foreign because our “Christianness” got in the way. When did Jesus tell people to get counseling for their issues and then come and see Him? When did Jesus tell someone to go to the “right” synagogue and then He would talk with him or her? When did Jesus tell someone to confess all of their sins in front of everyone and show true shame for their actions before He would forgive them?
The answer is never. Jesus met every single person where he or she was, right in the middle of what he or she was doing- whether it was right or wrong. The woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, Zaccheus, Nicodemus, the demon possessed man in Gerasenes, Paul on the road to Damascus, each one was met right where they were living.
Before I say I am doing something in Jesus’ name, I need to make sure it really is something He would do.
Open my heart,
open my eyes.
Use my feet.
use my hands.
May I never be the same,
In Your name.