(Note: I intended this topic to be about something else when I started it, but God led me in another direction as I wrote. I’m leaving in my original start as reference.)
Near the end of a prior post, I listed some “assumptions” that I’ve made while reading the Bible. To me, the way God has always been presented to me, these assumptions would be very natural. To sum up, I assume that Jesus was right about everything he said, spoke in a way the disciples would understand (once they got their hearts in the right place), and wasn’t intentionally being evasive or confusing. Likewise, the apostles all communicated to the early Christians in this same manner.
Many Christians may agree with the above positions, but the popular Biblical interpretations today seem to contradict this. In light of such contradiction, Christians that begin to voice their concerns and confusions are told not to be doubtful, even being threatened that it’s sinful. In as polite of a manner as I can muster, I’d like to say that’s hogwash. In actuality, many presenting these claims seem to be just as confused and afraid to make any considerations outside of the indoctrination to which they’ve been bound. All of this, in turn, hurts our witness to the rest of the world. We try to force beliefs on others that don’t make any sense in our own head or heart. How can we adequately witness to the world if we don’t even understand our own religious text?
We assume that people are damned to hell based on what little knowledge we have of them from an external view and what little assumptive knowledge we have of the afterlife. We simultaneously condemn from a distance while refusing to enter into their lives. Inviting them to meetings that only present more confusion and guilt doesn’t help them either. They will only start believing in Jesus when we start showing him through our lives! I can type until my fingers are bloody and I can talk until I go hoarse, but it won’t change a person’s heart until they start seeing my faith lived out in me—until they see Jesus in me. In other words:
Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, proof of things not seen.—Hebrews 11:1 (emphasis mine).
Is that proof evident to others who see us? The burden of proof of Jesus’ love is on us as Christians! All the proof needed to convince others should be evident through the life we live. This doesn’t mean doing all the acceptable “churchianity” things and laying guilt on others. This means embracing those sinners even when other religious folk condemn us for it. This means following in Jesus’ footsteps of love. This means choosing love even if we think we’ve found a valid Biblical loophole not to.
I can make arguments. I can exegete and eschotologize. I can use big words that I’m not even sure I understand the meaning of (or if they’re even words for that matter). I can give my interpretation of the Bible. I can even lay down my life—and if it’s God’s desire, I will do so. But all of this means nothing if it isn’t in love. Is the Christian walk we’re presenting love? Are we truly embracing the “tax collectors and prostitutes” like Jesus did? Are we adamantly holding on to our religious doctrines like the Pharisees did? Have we redefined what it means to be a Christian—that is, our political beliefs, our patriotism, our American dream, our traditions, etc…?
Are we insisting that what we’re upholding is love, but it looks nothing like 1 Cor 13? Have we redefined such scriptures to fit to our Westernized comforts? Have we, like the religious leaders during Jesus’ ministry, chosen comparative righteous over love, all the while condemning even those who are trying to live out love to others because it makes us feel uncomfortable and guilty?
Jesus, please help me to live what I believe in love and remove from me anything that isn’t showing you to others! Help me to assume that you love everyone just like you love me and not assume that they are evil, malevolent sinners that deserve such a severe fate as eternal punishment. Help me be the proof of your love to a hurting world!