I think about a lot of the churches I have attended over the years and I can understand why people feel like they have to fit a certain mold to belong. Taking that leap and attending a church for the first time takes courage. The last thing these people need is to feel like they have to be sinless to be worthy of acceptance or love. I'm not sinless. Are you?
God loves us just as much as he loves the addict who has been clean for 30 days. God loves us just as much as he loves the man who wishes he could control his temper with his family. God loves us just as much as he loves the woman who was unfaithful to her husband and is trying to put her marriage back together. How we respond to someone who is broken, hurting or in pain can forever change the outcome of their relationship with Jesus. How we look at them, how we talk to them, whether we acknowledge them at all - these are all things we must be aware of. I am writing this to myself as much as I am to anyone who may be reading. I often find myself seeking the comfortableness of close relationships. I find myself holding back from talking to someone who may be going through hard times. I doubt myself and my ability to help them. What I am coming to realize though, is that it is not me that will help them. God gives all of us the strength and tools we need to reach out to others in love. We just have to be close enough to Him to feel that gentle push when the time (His time) is right.
Accepting and loving others does not mean you are condoning their sins. It just means you are not condemning them. Does Jesus not do this for us? And does he not expect the same from us (John 13:34)?
I am starting to learn that believing in and following Jesus is not as complicated as we tend to make it. It's quite simple when you think about it. I love this song, "These are the Words I Would Say" by Sidewalk Prophets.
Be strong in the Lord
Never give up hope
You're gonna' do great things
I already know
God's got His hand on you
So don't live life in fear
Forgive and forget
But don't forget why you're here
Take your time and pray
These are the words I would say
I love reading the blog from the pastor at my sister's church in Houston. Today's post, titled "Freaks and Lunatics" was particularly good. I hope you'll take a minute to read it.
How will you respond to the next person you meet who is struggling with something? Will you share your own brokenness? Will you tell them the impact God has had in your life? Will you acknowledge them at all?
"But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, " ~1 Peter 3:15