Monday, June 29, 2015

On courage and compassion

Hey friend,
Let's talk. If you're like me, you love Jesus and believe His word, and have decided to follow His word because you love Him. While I've refrained from writing them out in full, I've noted many scriptural references for you to do your own digging, which of course, I suggest.

We stretch our arms wide, sing out loud in the safety of our cathedrals, declaring "He makes us brave!", "calls us out upon the water" and we welcome Him to "lead us where our trust is without borders".
This is it!
This is what we've been waiting for!
The willing among us, will summon our Divine courage to "Be alert. Be firm in the Christian faith. Be courageous and strong. Do everything with love". (1 Corinthians 16:13-14)

Let's talk about the after-after we've stood firmly and spoken the Truth with boldness & grace. 
After we've taken our opportunity to present a case, based on our beliefs. (Col. 4:5&6)
After the choice is made against our better judgement.
After the verdict rules against what we hold sacred.
Let's talk about how to proceed when we're left to continue living-raising our families, conducting business, living in peace with our neighbors, respecting those in authority over us.

As I searched the scriptures for guidance on living in a world, increasingly divergent from His principles, I found a recurring theme: Love! Love! Love!
Here are 5 things in particular I believe are worth noting.
1. Jesus is concerned that His followers love each other.
"Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples". John 13:35

Struggle to align yourself with Christian counterparts, because of their conduct? I get it. Perhaps, go to them with your concerns, but don't get trapped in judgement. Instead for the sake of living in peace & unity, forgive and make allowances for each other's faults. (Eph 4:2)
What's so radical about loving those that sit in your living room, with a warm mug of coffee, conversation dripping with agreement with everything you say and do? (Luke 6:32 & 33)
Concentrate on aligning yourself with Christ. Align yourself with the Bible. Resist the temptation to tear other believers down or attack their methods. It's simply wasted energy and tarnishes the image of Christ, as represented in His church.

2. Jesus is concerned that His followers show love toward their enemies-people against them. 
"“But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you...Do good to them...Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for He is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked". (Luke 6:35 NLT)
Vehemently opposing the choices of a person doesn't require you to turn your back on them.

3. Jesus warns against judging, instead be compassionate.
"You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back to you". (Luke 6:36-37 NLT)

And if you find yourself particularly tempted toward pride, Paul reminds us our right-standing is not of ourselves, so we can't boast!
"God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it." (Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT)

4. Jesus cares how we make our case for the Truth.
Our answers should be well-informed, wise, prepared. Which is opposite of an emotionally-charged, off-the-cuff defense. Belligerence is not the tone a Christ-follower should use

Be prepared to give answers with respect & gentleness. (1 Peter 3: 15& 16)
Conduct yourself with wisdom & let your speech be graceful. (Col 4:5-6)

Don't be misled. All this gentleness & love talk doesn't constitute weakness & wavering. The scriptures read: "be firm!" "be strong!" "be brave!" suggesting the contrary. I'm a first-born, Italian girl from NY so you can pretty much bet I have strong opinions, that I embrace passionately. 

5. Jesus predicts rejection
Will some be offended? Yes. 
Will some hate you? Yes. (John 15:18 & 19)
This is a call for the brave! It takes courage to stand for Truth when it is not tolerant or popular.
The fruits of the spirit: love, kindness, gentleness, patience, self-control should govern our behavior as we navigate uncomfortable situations.

Jesus is the originator of freedom of choice. As Creator, He gave humans free will. He's not afraid of it. It doesn't put a crimp in His plan. His plan is to demonstrate radical love that will draw men to choose Him.
Don't waste your time convincing someone to adopt your Christian morals before they are convinced to love Jesus. 
It is because we love Him, we obey him. The message of the Gospel is foolishness to those who are not believers.
Morality alone is not the concern of a Christian.

Peter wraps it up nicely, I'd say:
"Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor." 
1 Peter 2: 17

So I guess, we can start there, huh?! What are your thoughts?
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