So Iím going to see a footy game with some old friends right, and up ahead on the sidewalk thereís this guy, and heís got one of those big massive Bullhorns and yelling all this stuff and first I canít hear what heís saying but as I get closer I hear the words ďSinĒ and ďBurnĒ, ďHellĒ, ďRepentĒ and thenÖI hear the word ďJesusĒ. And, this, this guy heís got all these pamphlets and heís quoting these bible verses about anger and wrath of God and how if I donít repent Iím going to pay for it for eternity and how I might die tonight, I might die at this very moment and this might be my only chance and I might spend ever in misery as I burn in hell.
And no one is stopping to hear more. And no one wants any of his pamphlets.
So I want to talk to the Bullhorn guy:
Bullhorn guy, I donít think itís working. All the yelling and the judgment and condemnation, I donít think itís working. I, actually, think itís making things worse. I donít think itís what Jesus had in mind. And see, see Bullhorn guy, itís confusing for my friends and I because some are Christian and some are not. But we just donít get it, we just donít understand were all the condemning and all the converting, we donít understand what it has to do with Jesusís message. And, to be honest itís confusing for me because you and I get painted with the same brush. I mean didnít Jesus say that he came to save not to condemn. Like that story in the bible in the book of John where that women is caught for stealing and the religious leaders like drag her in front of Jesus and they have essentially condemned her to die and What does Jesus say to her. He says ďI donít condemn youĒ. I mean, thatís why so many of us are fascinated with Jesus because he never stops insisting that GOD REALLY, REALLY LOVES US, exactly how we are, who we are. I mean, isnít that what draws you to him. It what draws me. And all I can figure out Bullhorn guy is that you think you giving people the good news, but the problem is it doesnít come across that way. It doesnít appear very loving. And when the Jesus is asked whatís the most important thing , Jesusís response is to love God everything you have and then love those who are around you in the same kind of way.
Jesus doesnít separate loving god and loving others. For Jesus everything hangs on these two. So the defining mark of a Christian is basicallyÖÖÖ.love. Like this writer John in the bible writes a series a letters to some of the first Christians and in one of them he says this:
He says ďIf you say that you love God and you donít love the people around you, Then you are lierĒ. Itís almost as if John says that ďHow you love others, thatís how you love GodĒ.Thereís a great passage in the bible, this one writer ďI can say all these things but If I donít have love, then Iím like GONG or a clanging symbol. And you see Bullhorn guy, this is why all the yelling and the bullhorn are so disturbing to us. Because it just seems like your trying to convert people to your religion. Like they are notches on some sort of spiritual bell but they are not. They are people. Theyíre people that God loves. Theyíre people that Jesus wants usÖÖÖ to love. They arenít statistics, they arenít numbers, they arenít possible conversions. I mean, ifÖ, If Iím loving somebody with an agenda then it isnít really love, is it. Because God loves everybody. Any movement that isnít of love it isnít of God. I mean any movement of hate or marginalisation or oppresses, ANYBODY, ANYWHERE, no matter what it says or whatís in itís name. Jesus doesnít want any part of it. So a Christian, somebody who understands this, who understands that peopleís different perspectives and different religious believes and convictions. They are to be loved and respected because they are made by God and they are sacred and are valuable and they matter. God loves the world, so Christian does to.
And it doesnít mean that they have to agree with everybody, like they canít have a spine or something. I mean we speak our minds and we take action against the things that we think are wrong but we do it with love and respect.
Because Jesus said to love everybody, including your enemies. And, and when we love our enemies, something powerful happens doesnít. Something transforming, something that canít be denied. Itís like we have an internal compass that tells us what love is, donít we. We know when we see it. I mean Love wins. We just know when someone doing something out of love. See, God loves everybody, you, me, and God loves those who think that doesnít exist and some people think that God only loves them and God loves them too. And some people think they are right and others are wrong and GOD LOVES THEM TOO. God loves everybody. Like the writes James says in the bible ďGod shows no FavoritismĒ.
And see, Bullhorn guy, there is so much that you can do, that we can do to help, there so much good that we can do to help. I mean there is so many people that just need someone to listen, not to preach to them and not to try to convert them but just to listen, to listen to their story and listen to their pain and to listen to their dreams. And then there is so many people who have such basic needs like food and clothing and shelter and medicine and we have the resources to help them and didnít Jesus say that when we do that, when we look out for each other, he is there in some sort of mysterious way. I mean, how we love others is how we love God.
And see Bullhorn guy, thatís why the hellfire and the condemning stuff are so dangerous. When you tell me that I should follow Jesus so that I donít burn in hell for ever, itÖ, it sounds like a threat. As if, like you scare people enough they magically all of a sudden decide to love God and follow Jesus. But that isnít what Jesus did. Jesus went around INVITING people into the best possible kind of life, I mean at one point he even said ďI come that you can have life and have it to the fullest.
We just donít find Jesus waving heaven in front of people like a carrot on a stick.
So Bullhorn guy, Iím asking you in love, on behalf of all of us. Please put the bullhorn down. Iím tired of it, everybody is tired of it, I thinkÖÖ, I think that Jesus is tired of it.
But maybe (Yes, you reading this) you are a Christian sitting there nodding and agreeing with me and saying yeah you tell him, itís about time somebodyÖsaid that. But what are you doing to change the perception because thatís what it is. Itís a perception between many that being a Christian is LAME, When you ask a lot of people whatís it mean to be a Christian and they give you a long list of things that have nothing to do with following Jesus. Even say the name Christian and for a lot of people it instantly drags up negative stereotypes, adjectives and images. I mean my question is this, how did the best message ever, this beautiful life of love and hope and peace, How did it ever get turned into something else? I mean, HOW DID SO FEW END UP SPEAKING FOR SO MANY?
See there is massive numbers of us, all over the place, who are serious about following Jesus, who actually believe him when he said that he came to give us life and life to the fullest. We want the best possible life here and now, the kind that goes on for ever. The Jesus invites us too. And so we are pursuing it, weíre learning how to live it and weíre learning how to love people. Not because weíre trying to get them into our little clubs and not because we want everybody to be the same but because this is what JESUS TEACHES US TO DO (Madison).
So may you see that how you love others IS how you love God. Thatís it. Thatís the way of love. Thatís the way of Jesus.
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