Tag Archive: acceptance

Good News

People who are not familiar with the Bible tend to look at it as a book full of rules and statements that Christians accept as true. If they scratch the surface a little further, they see the rules of a seemingly wrathful God (mostly in the Old Testament), and the nicer, more gracious teachings of Jesus in the New Testament.

That understanding misses the meat of what the Bible is trying to teach us.

The Law tells us what we ought to do, and that’s great as far as it goes. God cares about humanity, and tells us to Do The Right Thing, both toward Him and in being fair to our fellow creatures. But our experience – held up against this righteous standard – tells us we don’t always do the right thing. Our selfishness affects our relations with people and separates us from God.

The Gospel (literally, “good news”) tells us what God has already done for us – that we have been forgiven since Jesus took our separation from God upon Himself. He broke down the wall. It’s not a rule: it’s an announcement. All we have to accept it.

Easier said than done. People often ask if Christianity is easy or hard, and the answer is… yes.

It’s easy because the justification we could not achieve has been done for us. Christ paid for our sin with His own life and the resurrection is the graphic demonstration that in defeating the sin that bound us, He defeated everything attached to it – even death.

It’s hard because to just accept that and live in the freedom it brings is completely against our inbred desire to justify ourselves. We have trouble feeling good about our lives unless we do the work. The task of the Christian is to unlearn this way of thinking; to let go, to rest, and to just thank God for what He’s done. And (I can’t stress this enough) Christianity is not just agreeing with what the Bible says about God: it’s about trusting the person, work and love of God Himself for us and in us.

And we need constant reminders. Our actions we see and live with every day; but trusting an unseen God doesn’t come as easy. That’s why even experienced, instructed Christians need to keep up the good habits of reading their Bible every day, prayer and getting together with other believers.

But what freedom as light gradually begins to dawn in our hearts! It’s like water to a person dying of thirst, and one senses purpose, love, and radical healing of the heart. And it is offered to all who will simply come, “just as I am”.


Salt, Light, and Being Right

In his recent movie, Lord, Save Us From Your Followers, director Dan Merchant – himself a Christian – points out that believers may be more concerned with being right than being salt and light in the world. I think he’s got a point.

Acquaintances will tell you I love being right, that I love to debate and wrestle and (whatever else happens) to Make My Point. Merchant’s suggestion convicted me, yet as Christians we are to proclaim the truth of salvation through Christ. What’s the balance?

Maybe if we keep in mind why we share Christ it puts things in perspective. Our first motivation must be love; God’s gift is a gift of love, and we’re to show it by how we care and honour all people. We don’t have to water down the truth of the Gospel, but we do need to earn the right to be heard. For that we must love from the heart, the agape love of God, that gives and loves – even if we don’t get our way, and even if they won’t listen. We need to love just because God made them.

While I passionately believe that salvation is only through Christ, I sometimes forget to consider the work He may already be doing in someone’s heart, unseen and unsuspected. There certainly must be a point where an individual becomes His; but in the journey to that point, who am I to judge? We love to categorize, to pigeonhole people: you’re either in the club, or not. I think some are in the process of  becoming; we are all journeying either towards or away from Christ. Where someone actually is on that trip is something isn’t my call. Who knows what goes on between any individual and his Creator?

In the meantime, when we hammer them down with doctrine and winning debates we show a spirit of superiority and of putting them in their place. That pushes them away from – not towards – God. What’s attractive is love and acceptance just because they are valued. Christ came for us when we were separated from Him, because we were precious to Him, and we’re to demonstrate the same sort of grace.

Don’t misunderstand. Accepting a person as valuable and loving them does not imply condoning a certain lifestyle. Jesus was friends of prostitutes and tax collectors, and He didn’t mince words about where they needed to clean up their act. But He loved them anyways, just as they were. He criticized the self-righteous religious people far more than he did to those in the gutter, who at least had no illusions about their lifestyles. It was His love and His goodness that prompted them to change. He earned the right to speak into their lives because He loved them.

If Jesus is Lord, then nothing is secular. It’s all His. Our job as followers of Christ is to be faithful to love and to testify of His grace in our own lives; it’s the action – the love, the bearing witness of His work in our own lives – that God cares about. The results are His department.