What Does Redeeming Love Look Like?

This happened last Saturday…

 

 

 

 

 

The grands, while cleaning the bathroom, managed to pull down the towel bar. They came to me, faces solemn. With a comforting hand on Amari’s shoulder, Victoria rambled a convoluted explanation of something her brother had done. Her story was hard to follow, but I got the gist. Amari got the towel stuck between the bar and the bracket and kept pulling on it. Victoria tried to get him to stop and let her help him, but he ignored her and kept pulling until he pulled it out of the wall.

To say I wasn’t happy is an understatement.

After I could see straight, I went into his room to punish him for refusing to stop and listen to his sister. He lost several privileges and had to clean the bathroom alone, without his sister’s help. Afterward, my husband sent him back to his room for time out.

That’s when he broke. Through the torrent of tears, I heard, “I didn’t do it.”

Until then, he’d accepted his punishment without a whimper or complaint. I called him to my room and asked him, again, what happened in the bathroom. Tear tracks staining his little round cheeks, he looked up at me with the saddest eyes, and said, “I didn’t do it.”

He had accepted his punishment up to this point without complaint, a point I’d wondered about, so I summoned Victoria to my room.

“What happened in the bathroom?” I asked.

Amid tears, Victoria confessed. She’d been standing on the side of the tub (which she’s not supposed to do), lost her balance, and grabbed the bar as she went down.

“Why did you let Amari take the blame?” I asked.

“He wanted to. It’s not the first time. He’s always taking my punishment.”

Amari loves his sister so much that he was willing to take the blame, to let her appear blameless.

Sound like anyone we know?

we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Titus 2:13-14

Unlike Christ, Amari cracked. He couldn’t go through with it. When he took the blame, he didn’t understand what he’d signed up for.

Christ knew.

And He did it anyway!

What about us? Can we relate to Victoria’s response? Sometimes, I think we take Christ’s grace for granted, failing to acknowledge the true suffering we caused him. When we do confess, we often do it like she did, with tears and sorrow.

This season, as you hustle and bustle through your days, preparing for the holiday, don’t forget that Christ came into the world to save us from our sins. He took our sins upon Him, so we wouldn’t have to pay the price.

Because He loves us.

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Love One Another, Not Judge

lovecloudMy last two posts drew a lot of attention and caused me great sadness over our inability to love one another.  Your responses reminded me of two harsh truths:

  • Many people remain in abusive situations
  • Many people leave the church due to its reaction to their situations

Why can’t we get this right?

We’re not the only generations with this problem. We just have a larger vision of what’s happening in the world thanks to the internet and social media. It’s a two-edged sword. I can reach people with my posts, but so can others who share negative and hateful things. What causes them to say these things? They believe they are right and doing what is right.

What does Jesus have to say about what is right?

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”                   Luke 10:  25-28

We have clear directions from Christ, using the old testament (Deut. 6:5, Lev. 19:18) to reinforce his teaching.  Do you remember the expert in the law’s response to this? He asked, “Who is my neighbor?”

Jesus responds with the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). In case you’re unfamiliar with the culture at this time, a Samaritan was considered the lowest of the low. A Jew would not interact with a Samaritan at all. Was Christ saying Samaritans are better than Jews? No. He used this story to demonstrate that all of us are neighbors and should care for and help each other. No one is better than anyone else, and all deserve our love.

So, I ask of you, if you know of someone hurting–due to abuse or some other issue–reach out to them with the love that Christ commands. Don’t let misguided Christians set them down the path to unfaithfulness.  Christ told us to love one another. He didn’t say judge one another.

Remember this the next time you’re tempted to judge someone. Odds are you don’t know the whole story, anyway.

 

We Are Called to Love One Another

I purposefully have not posted about the recent Supreme Court ruling. With all of the hype on social media, I wanted to let the frenzy die down a bit.  And as a side note, I never meant for this blog to be a political blog. It’s a blog on faith, not a blog on the current political situation.

That said, several of my posts as I journey through my development of faith touch on current topics, political or religious. I have tried to be mindful in my posts and present a loving and caring Christian attitude toward all.  In three of the gospels–Matthew, Mark, and Luke–the question of the greatest commandment comes up.  In all three accounts, the answer is similar:

Jesus replied:  “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and will all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.   And the second is like it:  ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 23:37-40

The story in Luke 10:25-29 is slightly different.  In this case, an expert in the law asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus turned the tables and asked the expert to answer his own question.  The man gives the same answer as Jesus gives in Matthew 23 and Mark 12, and Jesus commends him for his answer.

Love is the key.  Not marital love like the Supreme Court just discussed, but agape love:  selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love. Agape love is used to describe Jesus’ love for his Father and for his followers.

We are called, as Christians, to love one another.  I have striven to exhibit that kind of love through my blog. It’s not easy, my friends, when discussing some of the atrocities that occurred in my life, but I’ve tried.

I have seen a lot of people on both sides of the gay marriage issue thumbing their noses at each other.  How ridiculous and childish.  I read a post a few weeks ago that pointed out that Jesus lived in a time when the government was rife with sin.  He didn’t try to change the government.  He focused on meeting people where they are and inviting them to see a different way of life.  A life of freedom from sin through accepting His love, and ultimately accepting His sacrifice.  Does the New Testament, the part of the Bible outlining the Christian faith, say anything about sin?  Absolutely.  One of the passages about this topic is found in 1 Corinthians 9-11:

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived:  Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters not adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.  And that is what some of you were.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

It is there in the New Testament, but I ask you to consider what else appears in this list, or for a thrill, check our Galatians 5:19-21 which includes other lovely sins such as jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, hatred, discord, envy, etc.

Yes, these are all sins in the eyes of God.  And no one on earth is without sin.

What we need to do is show the love of Christ, not hatred. And, we must remember that even those of us who live by the Spirit are guilty of many of the other items listed in these verses.

We ALL fall short.

That is why we need Christ.

This is why He gave His life as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.

And this is why Christ commanded us to love one another because you can’t lead others to Christ through hatred.  It just doesn’t work. I am not immune to the current situation.  I have friends in same sex relationships and/or marriages.  I had a family member who chose that lifestyle for a while then turned away from it by choice, not by coercion. I love each of these people unconditionally.

I’m sure some will find fault with my words.  I’ve put them forth humbly and hope that others will understand my point.

I invite your comments but please speak with a willingness to discuss this situation with maturity. Remember, Christ commanded us to love one another.