It would seem our effectiveness as Christians is seen by the rest of the world dependent on how we present God to them.
If we look through the Bible, we can see God represented in many ways. Many Christians present the Bible as the authority we should follow on how to live our lives yet no one can agree on many of the the things the Bible presents.
How can we present Jesus to the rest of the world when we, as Christians, can’t understand and agree on God’s Word?
The Bible, to me, has to have some sort of underlying theme that ties it all together and makes some kind of sense. That one concept the entirety of the Bible points to is Father’s love as represented in human form in Jesus. Anytime we are confused about how to represent God, we can look to how Jesus did. Jesus’ representation contradicted the most religious people of his time as well as much of how God was represented prior to his coming. Jesus’ life also heavily contradicts the way the vast majority of Christians are representing Father today.
But, how do we reconcile God with love and the atrocities we see even in the Bible?
For me, real love means loving someone regardless of who they are, what they do, or who we think they should be. Many religious people extrapolate rules from the Bible of how a Christian should look externally based on such things as the Ten Commandments. However, Jesus stated what these commandments really were attempting to communicate: love (Matthew 22:37-40). Still we claim love, but the form of love is not unconditional like Jesus represented. We built our own god by our interpretation of the Bible instead of looking to Jesus, who exemplifies Father.
The love of God that the Bible communicates does not exist when extrapolated and manipulated to our desires. Then, we just have dead words that attempt to guilt trip someone into accepting a relationship which only seems burdensome instead of freeing.
God is love and he created humans to be in a relationship of love with him. Love can only be love if it is chosen freely without manipulation or force. In attempting to manipulate or force someone into that relationship, we push them away from love. Whether our efforts work to conform them externally or not, we still uphold a false standard that God’s love is based on our compliance which wouldn’t be unconditional love.
God’s intent is to redeem all of creation while working through all the “bad” things we cause by our actions (2 Corinthians 5:19, Colossians 1:20). In this way, he still shows his unconditional love to us while we maintain our free will. Love without this kind of free will would not be love. Our main “task” is to live in that love and let it flow through us for others to see so they can free themselves from the burdens of trying to live “morally,” whatever that may entail.
When we live in that love, we become obedient to God. When we try to produce love by obedience however, we only create confusion and chaos as can be seen in our world today. In turn, we end up extrapolating cliches to give ourselves some form of comfort when we see things falling apart around us. When we live in God’s love, we allow him to remove those things from us that distract us from growing deeper in that love. Many pray for this type of relationship but get confused when God removes something that they’ve put their trust into so they can see and trust in his love instead.
When we focus on God’s love for us, we fall in love with him. That love then flows through us to others. However, when we focus on upholding the Bible as a rule book, we have the exact opposite effect and alienate others.