John 3:16-17 (Amplified)
For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him.
Why is everyone so mad? It’s Christmas for crying out loud. They recently put a nativity scene honoring the birth of Jesus Christ in the capital building in Florida. It has become a three-ring circus as media covers the anger of nonbelievers and others who find it offensive. There is a banner proclaiming freedom of and/or from religion proudly displayed by those who are atheist. They choose to believe that there is no god. Ok – I get that from a legal and Biblical perspective. We have freedom of choice as Americans. The Bible says that we choose between life and death or blessing and cursing. There is now a “Festivus” pole adorned with beer cans now erected to rival the nativity scene as well. You’re kidding, right? There are rumored to be other groups rallying to produce some sort of protest. Why do I feel this is ridiculous? Doesn’t freedom of religion protect the right of Christians to practice their belief as well? Now before you get yourself all worked up over this – just listen. Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ…in our family. There are many people who practice other holiday traditions and not the same celebration. It is their right. They are not judged by God for their endeavors or persecuted by the law of the land. I have come to the realization that in our efforts to protect our religion, it sometimes creates a distance in our relationship to Jesus Christ. Don’t be mad. God is not mad at people for their protests. God is love. In fact, He loved the world so much it is His Prize. He felt that every human being ever created was worthwhile enough to send His One and Only Son to pay their sin debt and set them free to choose a relationship with the Father, again. Jesus Christ did not come into this world to reject anyone, condemn anyone or pass sentence on their life so why should we? He came so that everyone might be free to choose salvation and find it however they can. Today a man or woman may reject the Good News found lying in a manger all those years ago, but tomorrow they may crawl to the foot of the Cross looking for His Great Love. This Christmas let’s celebrate the Love of God and stop being so mad at each other!
I John 4:6-8 (Amplified)
We are [children] of God. Whoever is learning to know God [progressively to perceive, recognize, and understand God by observation and experience, and to get an ever-clearer knowledge of Him] listens to us; and he who is not of God does not listen or pay attention to us. By this we know (recognize) the Spirit of Truth and the spirit of error. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is (springs) from God; and he who loves [his fellowmen] is begotten (born) of God and is coming [progressively] to know and understand God [to perceive and recognize and get a better and clearer knowledge of Him]. He who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love.
God is love. God is unfailing and unconditional love whether you and I like it or not. Anyone who decides to call on Jesus Christ and believe in Him will be saved from death to attain eternal life. That is all good and well – but salvation is for when we die. In the meantime, we become servants of Jesus Christ unto God the Father who is love. It is now our life’s mandate to walk in the Love of God expressing it to everyone who we meet along the way. I believe that if Christianity was more profound as the positive lifestyle that it is rather than the restrictive religion man has made it, people would not be so mad at Christians all of the time. For example, I have a very good friend. In fact, she is one of my very best friends sadly rivaling many of my church relationships and Christian acquaintances. I know that I can depend on this woman for just about anything. She has told me time and time again that I am the only Christian who she has ever met that she likes. Chatting one day, she told me that she does not want her son to go to a certain relative’s house because they are Christians. Obviously I had to ask why as it is my womanly duty. She then told me that they make her son pray before meals. I asked her why she found this so offensive. Couldn’t he just bow his head even if he chose not to pray to respect their beliefs? She agreed. Then we got to the heart of the matter – the relative had been sharing the “Love of Jesus” with the woman’s son (he is her only child) including the “turn or burn” part. This led to the point that those who are not saved will be lost forever. They would be separated forever if mom didn’t ask Jesus into her heart, too. From a natural perspective the mother was horrified of a God that separates mothers from their children willingly without remorse. Although I believe that the woman had the right motives, her method was way off. There is no love in this message only fear. Jesus Christ opens the “gate” for His Sheep and calls them. They come to Him because they know His Voice. They love Him, trust Him, cling to Him and rely on the Lord. Do you see this is intimacy and clearly not offensive? Too often we use religion to try and scare people in the “Gate” when this is not what Jesus is all about! He is Love just like His Father before Him! People are mad at Christians because we sometimes forget that this is all about love and slip into old habits such as condemnation, judgment and scare tactics. I have found the Love of God to be overwhelming and all-consuming. Everyone who has not accepted Jesus Christ will die forever. But really that is what everyone’s expectation is currently – to die. Why not express the benefits of Eternal Life and make it worth living for by sharing the Love of God with everyone who you come in contact with. You can live what you believe in a way that is not offensive.
John 13:34-35 (NLT)
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
Judas had just left the room. The disciples were about to face their greatest challenge to date as Jesus was headed to the Cross. These words would be the most important because they were a dying man’s last request. Did He go off about the betrayal by his “close” friend, Judas? No. Did the Lord berate the disciples for their lack of faith and knowledge despite living with Christ day and night? Nope. He told them to “love each other”. Not just any old way, but the same way that “I (Jesus) have loved you!” You should love each other that way! This is how we prove the reality of God and Jesus Christ to the world. They want love. Love covers a multitude of sin. (I Peter 4:8) If people find the nativity offensive, then maybe just maybe we should find another way to love them. Really love them… ”Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” (Romans 12:9-10) Consider this, if God is truly the Giver of Life which He is. If God has a plan and purpose that is good for every person who He ever created and that person is still breathing…then it would seem that the atheist who created the banner and the silly person who made the Festivus pole are still candidates of God’s Love. You may have written them off as enemies of the Cross, but God loves the enemies of the Cross until there is no hope. If you are breathing – you still have hope for whatever it is you are believing God for. If they still have breath, Jesus is still knocking on the door of their heart and ushering them to come to Him. What are you doing to share the Love of Jesus and encourage them to come home? If all they will find are more wolves in sheep’s clothing, why would anyone want to be saved? If all the Body of Christ can do is pass judgment rather than spreading God’s Love, what’s the point? God loves every single atheist but hates their choice. He loves every single agnostic waiting for them to come to understanding. He loves us even when we do dumb things religiously rather than loving radically! We are fighting a battle that Jesus Christ already won! You can do nothing to add or take away from His Work completed on the Cross only accept it and share it with the rest of the world. What did you find when you came to Jesus Christ? Is that what you are giving to the world in every word and deed? No wonder the world is mad at us!
2 Timothy 2:10-16 (NLT)
So I am willing to endure anything if it will bring salvation and eternal glory in Christ Jesus to those God has chosen. This is a trustworthy saying: If we die with him, we will also live with him. If we endure hardship, we will reign with him. If we deny him, he will deny us. If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful for he cannot deny who he is. Remind everyone about these things, and command them in God’s presence to stop fighting over words. Such arguments are useless, and they can ruin those who hear them. Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. Avoid worthless, foolish talk that only leads to more godless behavior.
The Truth of God’s Word is genuine and authentic whether you and I choose to believe it or do it. Those who desire to serve God wholeheartedly and live what they believe will work hard to present a life worthy of God’s Approval. This is only done by accepting God’s Grace and Love. When we do this there is nothing to boast about accept the Love of God demonstrated in the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, it is all about love. It doesn’t matter what you believe compared to the relevance of Christ meaning in the end “every knee will bow and every tongue confess”. If your child wandered into oncoming traffic, you would do everything humanly possible to save their life. You would not worry about yourself. Your love would drive you to any length to pull that child to safety. It is with such passion and deep commitment that we are to care for our brothers and sisters. Both those who are lost and found. Arguing over religion will ruin many but those who choose to constantly build God-Honoring relationships loving the sinner yet hating the sin will be considered approved workers. You came to Christ in the very same condition. There is not one sin worse than the other – God finds them all intolerable so you and I have nothing to boast about even when we make better choices. To be a good worker is one who is not ashamed to share God’s Love with the world and spends time growing in wisdom of exactly how much God really loves us. “Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” (Ephesians 3:17-19)
I Corinthians 13:1-3 (NLT)
If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.
“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! (Revelations 2:4) It is easy to forget our humble beginnings when God has lavished His Love and Blessings all over our life. We tend to need to be reminded that I am nothing more than a sinner saved by grace. It is also true that some people will deny the Lord their whole life and call on His Name in just the nick of time rather than “laboring” their life before Him. Basically, they will slide into home plate. You have to be okay with that, too! God is after the hearts of all mankind. He loves us so passionately and personally that sometimes we forget this love is for everyone. If I do not effectively share the Love of God with others, I have gained nothing because real love casts out all fear and calls for a response. (I John 4:18) We know this love because Jesus Christ sacrificed His Life for us to experience it. Therefore, we must be willing to lay down our life (pride and selfishness) for our brothers and sisters in Christ. (John 15:13) If Christians would learn to love others, they would not be as offended as we practiced our relationship rather than religion! I know the folks who put the nativity in the capital building. They are good people who genuinely love God and others. It is an expression of love not condemnation. I love the fact that it is there but not that others are offended. Do I think that they should take it down? Absolutely not! I do believe that if as believers we would do a better job of sharing the Love of Jesus Christ people might hear our message rather than opposing it so much! Our walk has to line up with our talk which should be in total alignment with the Truth and motivated by His Spirit! God is love. Jesus Christ has given us the opportunity to live in God’s Love. His Spirit will show us His Way! Professing to be His Followers, we have heard the call and accepted it. We have been commanded to love one another as Christ loved us. If we would focus on loving others completely then maybe people wouldn’t be so mad about it!
Mark 12:30-31 (NLT)
“And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”
Colossians 3:12-14 (Amplified)
Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s own chosen ones (His own picked representatives), [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by] tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, [and] patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper]. Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive]. And above all these [put on] love and enfold yourselves with the bond of perfectness [which binds everything together completely in ideal harmony].