So I had a blog post all written up and ready to go. It’s been sitting, written, waiting to be put out there for everyone to see, but for some reason I just couldn’t post it. Let me tell you why.
We had the pleasure of hosting one of our former professors and his daughter recently. It was such a blessing to fly them out here, adventure all over our island, and share in fellowship with them. Out here, while we have made some wonderful Christian friends, there is a definite void where our lives were once full of godly people we love and respect. It comes with being new and we understand that, but it was very refreshing to share life with like-minded people for a little while.
One thing that their time with us brought was a renewed sense of purpose. Something our ohana has been working at diligently (and admittedly not to perfection) is living out what the body of Christ looks like. We are supposed to be a group of people set apart by our love for one another because of Christ’s love for us. And because of that love, we can see the world through new eyes, his eyes, and all of Creation takes on a new meaning. We are a family to each other, so much closer than biological family, because the ties that bind us are eternal. But not only that, we can have a level of love and compassion for each other and the rest of the world because we know the kind of love and compassion God extended to us through Jesus.
But sometimes I forget that. I’m a very critical person. To be fair, I’m very critical of myself too, but I often look at the people around me and wonder why they can’t just get it together. This does NOT include people outside of the church. I am fully aware that they don’t have or know the truth and are not held accountable for their actions except by God, and I’m saddened but okay with that situation. The people in the church, though, that’s where I struggle.
I want to see people living like Jesus. I want to see people thinking of others more than themselves. I want to see people worry less about temporary, worldly things like money and more about eternal things. I want to see the church coming together, not fighting over really stupid stuff. I am critical of people claiming the name of Christ and looking like the world. That is a huge struggle of mine.
Having our guests out here and discussing the Bible for hours with them really reminded me of some simple truths I had forgotten. One Sunday morning we studied God’s word together and we read out of 2 Corinthians 5, a passage I thought I knew reasonably well, and we really dug deep into what it means. And this is what I learned:
- In Christ, all things are made new. We no longer can look at anyone from a worldly perspective (from our limited human eyes) but only in light of Him.
- Because we are reconciled to Christ, we are now in the business of reconciliation. When he reconciled us to him he didn’t count our sins against us so we can’t do it either.
- We are his ambassadors, his representatives on earth, and that’s a serious position to hold. It’s no small thing to draw the world to him and it won’t work if we are constantly viewing people in the old way NOT through our new, Christ-colored lenses.
For someone like me that means letting go of my criticism. It’s not wrong to want people to be like Jesus and to obey his commands. The Bible makes it clear that the mark of a true Christian is obedience to God’s word, but it’s not my job to make sure people are obedient. If they need a gentle reminder and they are a part of my specific body of believers (so Simon, DJ, and Rebecca) then we follow the outline the Bible lays out for dealing with sin within your body (found in Matthew), but that’s it. My job is to love like Jesus, to speak truth about what his word says, and to extend the kind of grace I’ve been given. He loves me so much he has forgiven all the sins I commit, even now after twenty years of following him, and that’s the love that needs to compel me to continue to reconcile others to him without holding their sins against them.
When I think about what the world could look like if we acted like that more often, I am so excited to be a part of it. What if we loved more when people sinned? What if we explained why it was wrong and then extended genuine forgiveness and grace without keeping a tally of what they’ve done? Wouldn’t people start to sin less because they’re loved more? Wouldn’t people want to be more like Jesus when they see us acting like Jesus?
I’m not saying that we aren’t accountable for our actions to others, we 100% are, but we also are responsible for seeing each and every person as the image of God, and that should change how we handle it when people do sin. How did he handle it when the world was so full of sin there was no hope of recovery? He laid down his life in love for us, us poor fallen creatures, and gave us the opportunity to experience new life in him and life abundant. I want to live out that new way of life to the fullest and that includes leaving my human senses behind and learning to see, hear, taste and smell the way Jesus did.
In our household, that means not caring about the little things that others do that make us grit our teeth and think “if you could just get over that thing you’d be even better.” It means acknowledging that we are on a journey together, and we all have areas to grow which is why it’s so awesome that we have each other. It means celebrating each other with gusto because God has placed us in each other’s lives for a really remarkable purpose and it means inviting others into our group so they, too, can know and experience the kind of love we have to offer because it was first offered to us.
So that’s why I couldn’t write my last post. I wanted this post to be full of the love of Christ for all of you from me….from us 🙂 I hope you feel it.