“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. ”
C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
“Forgiveness must be asked for, not expected. ”
"Don’t you see how wonderfully kind, tolerant, and patient God is with you? Does this mean nothing to you? Can’t you see that his kindness is intended to turn you from your sin?" // Romans 2:4
So very often in this world we as Christians look down on those around us, either willingly or not. Some of us do it intentionally, and I would urge you to stop. But I want to send a message to those of us who do so unconsciously. Listen to what Paul has to say.
"You may think you can condemn such people, but you are just as bad, and you have no excuse! When you say they are wicked and should be punished, you are condemning yourself, for you who judge others do these very same things. And we know that God, in his justice, will punish anyone who does such things. Since you judge others for doing these things, why do you think you can avoid God’s judgment when you do the same things?" // Romans 2:1-3
Why is it our first reaction, our tendency, to immediately believe the worst? Have our hearts been so stripped of hope? Why do we as followers of Jesus (who sin every day, by the way) feel superior to those who live in a lifestyle of sin? First off, A) We know better because sin has been revealed to us as such, and B) Those without Christ will always think abstaining from pleasurable things (and they truly are) is out-of-touch.
Do not expect or hold those without Christ to the same caliber and sanctification as yourself.
After all; Jesus, God, and the Holy Spirit are the only reason we can overcome sin. Isn’t that right? If you never saw a speed limit sign, would you be aware that you were speeding? Very often, they haven’t been shown that sex, drugs, or any form of sin is evil when out of the context that God designed. They have no way of knowing.
Which is where we come in.
Jesus gave us four new commandments that summarize His entire mission on Earth. Jesus said, ”’You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments…’ So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other." // Matthew 22:37-40, John 13:34
Love God, Love Others, Love Yourself. And to seal it all in a packaged deal, before ascending into Heaven, Jesus repeats Himself and says, “Love as I have loved.” Believe the best in others - have hope that there is still good in this world. Do not become calloused and jaded; do not let the Enemy steal your hope.
So take yourself off your pedestal and join the world as a light in the darkness. Come to others as equals in love, and above all…
Believe the best.
"For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God." // Romans 1:20
You have to look no further than your garden outside to see the abundance, the joy, and the creativity of God. Forests show us His sanctuary, the ocean declares His abundance of grace, each wave washing anew. The rain shows us how freely He is willing to wash us clean. The sun gives us life.
The intricate beauty of this creation is God’s signature on His workmanship. But above everything we see, the most important aspect of His creation is us. We are made in His image with the unwritten law of morality in our hearts.
“I desire mercy, not sacrifice. ”
Jesus (Matthew 9:13)
Stop. Do yourself a favor and listen to this amazing band. This is what genuine worship looks and sounds like. Unscripted, passionate, real.
As many of us know Paul spent significant, if not the majority, of his time preaching the Gospel in various prisons across the Mediterranean. In chapter 25 of Acts, we see that Paul is being held in the estate of the Roman Procurator of Judea, Antonius Felix. For two years Paul has been defending himself from the false accusations of the Jews seeking his life before Felix and in this time Paul has also been able to minister to the governor’s court. But when Felix was elected out of office, in order to gain favor with the people, he left Paul under house arrest.
Enter in now the new Roman Procurator - Porcius Festus. Seeing their chance with a fresh face, the Jews cornered Festus in Jerusalem and demanded Paul be brought back for them to kill him. Festus, being a Roman official unfamiliar with Jewish law, told them that all Roman citizens must stand trial and have a chance to defend themselves. So he invited them back to his estate where they brought out Paul and began to make charges they had no means of proving.
But this is where the story gets interesting, especially for us believers now. Very, very often Christians are portrayed as quiet, small, and passive people. That we cower and turn the other cheek and allow abuse to happen to us. But that is not what Paul is representing here, no, Paul is showing us that as a Christian it is ok to be bold and to counteract lies with truth. Paul doesn’t back down when they start hurling impossible charge after charge at him. Take a look at how he responds.
"Paul denied the charges. ‘I am not guilty of any crime against the Jewish laws or the Temple or the Roman government,’ he said.
Then Festus, wanting to please the Jews, asked him, ‘Are you willing to go to Jerusalem and stand trial before me there?’
But Paul replied, ‘No! This is the official Roman court, so I ought to be tried right here. You know very well I am not guilty of harming the Jews. If I have done something worthy of death, I don’t refuse to die. But if I am innocent, no one has a right to turn me over to these men to kill me.
I appeal to Caesar!’”
// Acts 25:8-11
We see immediately that Paul is incredibly knowledgeable and ready to debate. He doesn’t take a stance of meekness and allow these accusers the chance to end his ministry here; he stands tall, empowered by God, and fights against the lies and the darkness. For in the moments where we need wisdom most, God will give us the words to say. Don’t merely take the hits in this life, make sure they count. Your ministry and your service and your example doesn’t end when you hit the first bump in the road or with the first rejection.
As Jesus said, brush the dust from your feet as a testament against those who stand before you. Your mission is much more valuable and important for us to stop when the going gets tough.
It’s time to fight.