Loving People Like Jesus Loves Us
So I was reading some articles last night written by a ministry friend of mine. I like him personally but I strongly disagree with some of his views, especially with regard to the Bible and its interpretation as well its application for our lives. I also think he has some pretty wacky views on the nature of the Church. I personally think I am right, but Jesus is not calling me to go tell everyone else they are wrong. We’ve got to wisely pick our battles, you know? Every hill isn’t worth dying on, nor are we called to set everyone straight. That said, I was inspired, fired up, moved - whatever you want to call it – to write the following after reading a few of his articles:
It's a travesty that some professing Christians want people to ignore the Bible's clear teaching on a variety of subjects and believe their unsound, shaky reinterpretations. They are misguided and hurting. They are too busy trying to get people to notice them to look to the Biblical Jesus and point people to Him crucified, risen, exalted, and returning in His perfect time for His Church whom He is maturing.
I was really tempted to post that paragraph online as a cryptic correction of a brother whom I love, but disagree with; a sideways slam that just maybe he would take to heart. My thoughts instantly started colliding: Would he even see it? Would it be appropriate for me to send it? Maybe he would see my post and get the point! Maybe he would see my post and think “why couldn’t he just talk with me about it?”! Maybe I should just say nothing.
In the end wisdom prevailed and I did not post the barbed wire. By the way, arguing with yourself is often a really good thing to do! In that moment I decided to not post my comment. I am confident it was the wise thing to do. But I did email it to myself, didn’t I? That’s why you have it now! You see, I wasn’t quite ready to let go of my pithy words of supposed wisdom.
Today I had the privilege of eating lunch with some fellow pastors from Grace and elsewhere. We went around the table sharing our hearts and lives on a variety of important subjects. One of my beloved brothers made a comment regarding loving people like Jesus loves them. Then it dawned on me – that’s why I didn’t (and shouldn’t) send those comments out online. Not in that setting. Maybe the message might be received or at least discussed in a private chat sometime if God orchestrates such a meeting.
Loving people like Jesus loves them leaves lots of room for understanding before evaluation and curbs our tendency to blast others.There’s always backstory that if we only knew, we’d save ourselves so much grief. I am not saying we shouldn’t correct wrong views, I just think there is a time, and a place, and the leading of the Holy Spirit involved. Sometimes we are called to comfort, sometimes to challenge, other times to correct. I have found that when I stop and pray and also ask trusted friends for advice, I am more open to following God’s leading rather than my own understanding.
It is so refreshingly good to listen to and learn from beloved brothers and sisters in Christ. During our lunch today I asked my friends at one point what one thing they want for Christ’s Church more than anything else. The responses were deep and varied, a beautiful tapestry of Biblical truth:
• Just believe the Bible (it is the inerrant, infallible, inspired Word.)
• Be truth seekers (seeking to understand where others are coming from and why.)
• Love all people as Christ loves them (such a timely word for me today.)
• Kill your sin (living by God’s grace and strength.)
• Be Passionate God-fearers (reverent worship breeds reverent living)
• Be Passionate for the supremacy of God (He is over and above all things, especially my opinions.)
• Worship Jesus daily (as individuals and households wanting to glorify God by engaging in the Word, prayer, and worship.)
Sometimes it is such a good blessing to withhold judgment and be merciful instead. It is often wise to not say what’s on our minds. Proverbs 17:28 says “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”
We have been freed by Jesus to serve God’s purpose and trust Him with the results. May God use us all for His sovereign good purposes and may we choose to engage/participate/cooperate with what God wants to do in and through us for His glory, loving others as Jesus loves us! Jesus said "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35)