I love you with the love of the Lord

As Christians we are told to love our neighbours as ourselves (Mark 12:31). We are told that God is love (1 John 4:16) and that as his followers we should love and show love to all around us. We are told to be compassionate like the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), non-judgmental as Jesus told those who condemned the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11) and to show sacrificial love to our brothers and sisters like Jesus did on the cross (Mark 10:45).

However, too often this is far from reality.

I am not a Christian by birth right and by this, I mean that my parents did not attend Church when I was a child. I also did not become a Christian through an act of great salvation following the realisation that I had ‘made a mess of my life’. I have always believed in God but turned to the Church because of a desperate need for unconditional love and acceptance. Unfortunately, I found neither in the church.

My overwhelming experience, in my days attending different denominations, was of a group of people more prepared to accept a murderer than a person who did not conform to a set of rules, all different depending on the denomination, and loosely based on the bible under the caveat of ‘I say this in love’ that seem to excuse all manners of sins. I was judged in the Evangelical Church because it took me a long time to publicly ‘give my life to Christ’, even though, in my mind, I had done so long before as a child. I was judged in the Catholic Church for having been baptised in an Evangelical Church. I was judged above all for choosing to marry a non-Christian.

I am not alone in this experience and have met countless souls put off by the lack of compassion and hypocrisy shown by a group of people who claim to represent the God of love. It is time that as the united Church of Christ, we reclaim the love that Jesus showed us not just in words but also in the way we act towards our fellow humans whoever they may be.

Love is not a feeling that we do or do not experience

Love is something we CHOOSE to show to those around us. It must be unconditional and accompanied by acts of compassion and loving kindness that better represent what a feeling or a simple word ever could. Love is not easy, it is sacrificial, it is forgiving, it is self-denying, it is often not returned and it is only when it becomes this hard that we truly experience and demonstrate the love of Jesus.

see also ‘Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you

A church united in its mission

1 Corinthians 1:10 “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.”

Our problem as Christians is that too often we promote what we are against instead of what we stand for. We fight about doctrine and what separates us rather than focussing on our mission and what unites us. This not only impacts our own walk with Christ but hinders our ability to attract people to Christ and his Church.

Mahatma Gandhi famously said “I’d be a Christian if it were not for the Christians.” And there is a good reason why he did. Intrigued by the teachings of the bible and the sermon of the mount in particular, Gandhi decided one Sunday morning to visit a Christian church in Calcutta but was stopped at the door by the ushers who told him that, as this was a church for high caste Indians and whites only, he would not be allowed in. This rejection caused Gandhi’s total rejection of Christianity. Now imagine what could have happened in Hindu India and elsewhere in the world if a man like Mahatma Gandhi had become a Christian?

We MUST remember what our mission is as is so clearly defined in the Bible:

  • Our mission as Christians is to be inclusive not exclusive: 1 Corinthians 12:12:-14 “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many.”
  • Our mission is to love our neighbours like ourselves not to despise someone for who they are, what they do or what they believe. Mark 12:31 “Love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (see more)
  • Our mission is to spread the gospel around the world, Matthew 28:19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”
  • Our mission is to protect the poor, the weak, the disenfranchised, all those who are different and need help. Proverbs 31:8-9 “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (see more)

We only have one enemy and that’s the devil. If you want to fight, then fight him. Let’s unite in our battle against our common enemy, who revels in and stokes our infighting and jealousy. Let’s stop playing his game and stand for who we ALL are in Christ, sons and daughters of the one true King and joint heirs with Jesus Christ.