Christianity and the Christian
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The American Heritage dictionary defines Christianity as the Christian religion, founded on the teachings of Jesus. It defines a Christian as one who manifests the qualities of Christ. What a wondrous purpose we have been called to--to be like Christ. True Christians love God. There is no other way. We can't help it. Our souls are filled up and overflowing in ways we never could have imagined possible. Suddenly, we feel such a love for our fellow man. It can be astonishing, this love. We find ourselves reaching out to those we might have previously discounted for one reason or another.
I am not one who would ever attempt a judgement call on who is really a Christian and who is not. Yet, I think sometimes it's very plain to see, if you will just look and listen.
Yesterday, I was reading an article in the USA Today newspaper about a 'reverend' from North Carolina. He says he is a Christian but I am deeply disturbed by his hate-filled gospel. He goes to funerals, for example, of gay people with his little band (I hope it's little, anyway) of followers, wearing shirts that proclaim God's hatred of 'fags', and tells the attendees that their loved ones are burning in hell because of the lives they led. What kind of Christian, what kind of person, would do something like that? I am offended that this type of behavior goes under the name of the Lord. Where is the Christianity in this?
The book I read tells me that Our Lord loves each and every one of us, and that sin is sin. We are all guilty of sin. Is one sin worse than another? I don't think so. As I said, sin is sin, and none of it is good. Isn't hatred a sin also? I am not gay, but what makes me less guilty than anyone else? Nothing! I am a sinner. I can't escape that fact. Were it not for the absolute and total love of Jesus, what would I be? I did nothing to deserve it. I can do nothing to earn it. We all sin in different ways, every single day. That's truth.
Jesus is teaching us every minute of every day. What we choose to do with His teaching, His voice, and His clear direction is up to us. He also gave us choices, which we are free to make with or without Him. I choose Him. I believe we have been instructed to stretch out our hands and hearts in love and truth, presenting the knowledge we have been blessed with in lovingkindness, and leave our judgements at the door in our encounters with others. There is only One who is able to make those judgements, and it isn't one of us.
Jesus taught us that as much as is possible we are to live peaceably with our brethren, to love others as we love ourselves, to hold others in higher esteem than ourselves. I am not advocating acceptance of behaviors that clearly deviate from His word. I am advocating acceptance of people as they are, because that is the way that we have been accepted into God's family. Just as we were then, when we first met our Savior, and just as we are now, as we have grown into faith.
I think of the phrase so popular of late-'What would Jesus do?', and I just cannot reconcile this picture of pure hatred, pure viciousness, in any way with what I know to be true about my Lord.
We are representatives of the most Perfect One ever. How we go about representing Him does matter.
I will pray for the hatemongers, and I hope you will too. Sometimes we 'Christians' need the prayers of others more than anyone else on earth.
God bless you. Spread the love of Christ. Hatred has no place here.
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