Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Just Love

I grew up in the Lutheran church...was baptized and later confirmed Lutheran, went to private schools, went to a Lutheran college. I was no stranger to church, to "religion." Most of my adult life I have been repelled by the church, in general, because my experience was a lot of judgement, hypocrisy and criticism. For a group of people who were supposed to love, I wasn't feeling any of it. In fact, I think it's safe to say, I couldn't wait to be old enough to decide for myself not to attend church.

"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."
John 13:33-34

When I found myself in a relationship with God a year and a half ago, I was pretty much committed that I would never go to church again. It just wasn't "for me." I felt like I could have a good relationship with God and be the kind of person I wanted to be without having to go sit in a church every Sunday morning with a bunch of people who were probably judging me for all my wrong doings. I found myself craving that fellowship with other "Jesus people" last fall, probably about 6 months into my own faith walk. I felt like I needed that community to continue to grow in my faith. I slowly started tip-toeing around the idea, considering where I might go first.

After a little trial and error, I found myself at my current church, Gold Creek, where I was baptized this past Easter. I would like to clarify that my opinions and statements in this particular post are not tied in any way to experiences I've had at my church. They are general feelings and observations, not specific to any one organization or people.

With everything that is going on in our country there is a lot of talk against Christianity. It is becoming "frowned upon" to call yourself a Christian. Just two weeks ago Christians were shot because of their faith and our President did not have much to say about that (but that's another post that I will likely never write). I found myself wondering recently - "WHY is it viewed so negative to be a Christian?" Christians are love. Christians are the safe people. You need something, you call a Christian. We work to be like Jesus...and Jesus loved everybody and had a special place in his heart for the outcasts and the misfits.

That's what Christians are supposed to be.

Are we confused?

Have we as Christians decided it's our place and our job to read and interpret scripture and hold everybody else accountable? Do we think it's our job to decide if someone is "good" based on how we feel they do at living according to Bible? Have we determined that it's okay for us to pass judgement on other people based on our assessment of how well they're following Jesus and the choices they are making in their lives?

I am a Christian. And I mess up a lot. I like to think that, for the most part, I'm a good person and I am good to other people. But I screw it up, on the daily. In big ways and small. I used to be good at judging, shoot, I still am. Who isn't?  It makes us feel better about the stuff we're messing up in our own lives.

Here's the thing: when I mess up...then and now...I am more concerned with the harsh judgment from other Christians than I am from the non-Christians. Why is that? Why? It's not a rhetorical question. I wish it was. I don't know the answer but I do know that as Christians we should be about love. When a person hears that we are Christians the first thought that should come to mind is..."Oh yeah, those people are the lovers. They're the safe people. They're the people that will accept me regardless." I don't know about you, but I don't very often feel that way about Christians in our world today. And I think that's a huge problem. That is not how it is designed to be. We are supposed to LOVE each other. Judgement is not for us, it's for God.

I have not found any place in the Bible that says - judge people and if you see fit after that, go ahead and love them. Just love. Think about it - if we JUST LOVED, if we just followed the instructions, maybe more people would want to follow Jesus.

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