Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you

“Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. “ Romans 15:7-9

I became a Christian not because I felt an overwhelming need to have my sins forgiven but because I felt an overwhelming need to be loved unconditionally, to be accepted and to belong. It took me years of personal search, prayers and agony before I experienced this from God, but I am still to experience acceptance and a sense of belonging from my fellow Christians. Perhaps I would have found my way to the love of the Father faster had I been able to experience that sense of belonging in the church first. But having to find my way alone was difficult, painful and above all lonely.

Forget for one minute that the World needs forgiveness, it does, but there are other equally crippling needs out there. Needs that the World tries to cover up with a multitude of distractions but really can only be answered by our Heavenly Father.

We live at a time when we are constantly bombarded with images of perfect people having a perfect life with their perfect friends and family. That world is fake, life is far from perfect, people are hurting all around us. It’s easy to stick with people who make us feel good about ourselves, doing things that make us feel happy, and in the process forgetting those who may make us feel a little more uncomfortable. But these are the people who need us, they are the people that need to feel loved. They are the people who need to feel that they belong. They are the people who need to experience the love of God and who better to show them that love than those who have already experienced it first-hand.

There are people out there who may be very good at covering up their distress and it is our job as Christians, who have been given the spirit of discernment, to see the broken hearts behind the shell. I was one of those people, who from the outside appeared confident, sometime too confident, to the point of unwillingly turning people away from me. It was a cover up to protect me from my deep insecurities. Most people never tried to find their way past the overly confident me.

There are people out there who do not conform to the typical Christian lifestyle, even once they have made the first step towards God. But there was never meant to be a one Christian fits all type. We are all different because we all have a different purpose. In the same way that a non-French speaking person, would not be able to teach the word of God to a French person, we each have been placed where we are, with our gifts, talents AND our word of testimony to reach a specific group of people that God has placed or will place in our path.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10.

A couple of people answered the call when God placed them in my path, and I owe them my life. They didn’t try to change me, they simply helped me take my first steps towards the Lord primarily by showing me His grace and His love in actions not just words. God did the changing once i had given my life to him.

I pray to be there for those who God places in my path. And I urge you all to be alert when that call is placed upon you. Use your spirit of discernment to see beyond the outward appearance, whether physical or mental and to speak the word that God places in your heart and NOTHING ELSE.

Love your neighbour as yourself

I started writing this because I am concerned that my fellow Christians spend too much time worrying about legal issues (see also this post) and not enough time worrying about the most important commandment Jesus gave us before he left for heaven: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39; And the second is like it: Love your neighbour as yourself.’40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:36-40.

These are the words that we should live by as clearly indicated by Jesus, but too often we find ourselves in a crusade against what we perceive to be an affront to our Christian lifestyle and forget that we don’t live in the World that God has prepared for us quite yet, we live in this broken World.

In an ideal world there would be no rape, no dangerous or even unwanted pregnancies.

In an ideal world a man or a woman would not be rejected by anybody let alone a Christian brother or sister for who they love, their gender or the colour of their skin.

In an ideal world my Gay friend would be the first one to tell you that he would have chosen to fall in love with a person of the opposite sex, rather than suffering years of self-doubt and rejection by his close ones.

But we don’t live in an ideal world, we live in a broken one and as Christians, who have already experienced the amazing grace and love of God, it is not our job to judge, it is our job to LOVE. And regardless of how many times you say the words ‘I say this in love’, if you have to add these five little words to your language, it means that you are talking judgment, not love.

So before you think of forbidding abortion, think about the woman faced with the terrifying decision she has to make when she finds out she is pregnant with an ectopic pregnancy (or any other condition that would kill her if she continues with the pregnancy); think about the 13 year old girl who finds herself pregnant after being raped by her stepfather; think about the 16 year old girl who finds herself homeless after her parents found out she was pregnant.

Before you condemn a man or a woman to a life of loneliness for being attracted to a person of the same sex, think about Genesis 2:18, when the Lord God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” That suitability is NOT your call.

I do realise that many of us will never agree on this, but our CALL is not to debate these issues, or make them political, our CALL is to spread the good news that Jesus is alive.

The danger of spending ALL of our time in the company of other Christians, at the centre of Christian communities, doing Christian activities is that we forget what it feels like to live in the World and the needs that we may have when living outside of God’s embrace.

Being a Christian is not supposed to feel comfortable. It is supposed to be a daily struggle. Our ancestors, the first Christians, suffered for their faith; we should do too.

We are supposed to be the ones being hurt and crucified, we are not supposed to be the crucifiers!