~ Sugar, or Vinegar? ~"Body Works" for September 2002
OK ... raise your hands if you like sugar better than vinegar! Now come on, be honest! lol I don't suppose there are too many of us that would choose vinegar. WHY? Because it's sour and offensive both to taste and smell. Which are you? Does the love of God rule and reign in our hearts and behavior? Or are we arrogant and spiritually elite? hmmm .....
I have occasion to frequent chatrooms online. Have you ever gone into a "Christian" chatroom? It's an interesting experience. First, obviously, not everyone in there is a professed believer. Then, there are many, many exclusive denominations and/ or beliefs... "I'm right and you're wrong!" Every once in a while, I have seen a loving, discerning believer trying to minister to a hurting soul. When a confused sinner enters, the most common thing for them to encounter, though, is judgment. "You're going to hell unless you get saved." Although I do not disagree with that statement, I'm not at all sure that's the best way to greet an unbeliever.
Do you know when you sin? Did you know when you were in sin before you accepted Christ's death and resurrection? I did ... and didn't care. But the point is that I knew, and most of the people in and out of our churches KNOW the sins in their lives ... at least some of them.
Now here's the big question: Did you know as an unbeliever that God still loved you? Do you know NOW that there is absolutely nothing you can say, do or feel that will cause God to stop loving you?
Only the love of God is stronger than our sin. Pointing fingers doesn't draw people to Christ. Inviting people to church doesn't draw people to Christ. Even quoting Scripture after Scripture doesn't draw people to Christ. LOVE is what draws people to Christ ... the perfect, unconditional love that drew you and me is still drawing people from every tribe, tongue and nation to Jesus.
The other day, I was in a "Born Again" chatroom just praying and reading the comments of the other occupants of the room. There was a young man who was cursing and lashing out at Jesus. As I prayed, the Love of God overwhelmed me for this man and I began a conversation with him. He had recently suffered great tragedy in his life and was hurting and angry ... blaming God. I could feel his hurt. He didn't need me to tell him he was a sinner. He needed me to tell him over and over and over that God was not the Source of his pain, but in fact, was able to sympathize with his pain. We ended up talking for about a half hour an although he did not commit himself to Jesus at that moment, his anger had subsided and clarity was returning to his thinking process. "A soft answer turns away wrath."
There are millions and millions of believers who are hurting for lack of experiencing the love of God. We know all about it ... sing all about it, but surprisingly few KNOW first hand God's love. Add that to the millions of unbelievers and there's no wonder almost all the songs, TV programs and movies are simply a search for love in various forms. Do you see it?
God did not storm around in arrogance pointing His finger at people and exposing their sin. Why do we? Even when the adulterous woman was caught in the act ... He did not condemn her. He LOVED her and extended her mercy. Should we not do the same with every person we meet? We are to be imitators of Christ ... growing up into His likeness. Beloved siblings ... PLEASE ... let's learn to love one another and embrace our differences knowing God is certainly big enough to correct each of us when necessary. He does not need our help! However, there are many, many people DYING for our help, for the LOVE of God that resides in us. We don't have to go to China to minister ... next door may suffice. If that's impossible and you're reading this, "online" is a really big place where lots of people come to fill their emptiness ... God didn't wait for us to get our act together to lavish His love on us. He loved us while we were still sinners. Let's ask Him to help us do likewise. Then, the world will have testimony of the Love of God that forever draws all toward Him.
37 Jesus said to him, "'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.'
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'
40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." Matt 22:36-40 NKJV
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