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Friday, February 19, 2010

"Love in its purest form is the most powerful weapon we have against hatred, indifference, prejudice, misunderstanding, and divisiveness.

The more we genuinely love, the more we understand that this commandment is life-altering for everyone involved.

Just as water rushing against hardened stone eventually erodes the stone, so love in action breaks down all barriers between people.

It's a commandment which works miracles and brings the kingdom of God closer to reality."

-Stephen Sciolino


In the last year, I've spent more time than ever thinking about the concept of "love." And not love as in that "can't eat, can't sleep, world series kind of stuff," but in that I want to BE LIKE JESUS. I want to move into the gutter with all of the dirt and grime of this world we live in and SHOW people Jesus. Sometimes, I feel like the modern-day church has forgotten to truly love other's like Jesus did. We're too busy fighting legislature related to things "we" don't believe in, or arguing with liberal views to the point of frustration and anger, or throwing scripture at people who have spent their entire lives putting up a front to abrasive Christians who won't look non-believers in the face and tell them we love them, and they matter. We're too busy hiding behind the safety of the church as an institution. Shouldn't we, though, start by truly loving others, so that they might know Christ? Isn't that what is important? If they truly know Jesus, do the rest of these earthly battles even matter? If they don't believe that all scripture is God-breathed, do you think it really matters to them what the Bible says the latest "gray" issues? If we can change hearts, then the rest will follow; in HIS time, not ours. 

My favorite ministry in NYC is based right in the heart of Lower East Side of Manhattan. Father's Heart Ministries first aims to restore dignity, and then hope. Most people who walk through the doors there have lost both of those things, and until their physical needs are satisfied, spouting truths about a God who they feel has turned their back on them, or they have lost their chance at winning the affections of a perfect God, may turn them further away. Instead, fill their stomachs, SHOW them God loves them and is by their side. Speak of love, and truth, and hope, and direction. Then encourage them to grow and strengthen in this newfound relationship with their Father using scripture and accountability.

Jesus was accused of an awful lot of things in his day, and the ridicule and doubt hasn't ceased since then. He may have been called a false prophet a time or two… or dozens, but if I recall correctly, when his miracles were witnessed and his words heard, he was never called a hypocrite.

"The greatest single cause of atheism today is CHRISTIANS, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle. That's what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable." – Craig Gross, in The Gutter

"I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." – Ghandi

So there we go. I think that is the most painfully frustrating and embarrassing thing a believer could hear. I'm not undercutting the value of the modern day church. Without it, there would be no institution to culture and support growth, strengthening, and accountability. I'm just saying, somewhere along the line, we as a body seem to have drifted from a naked and transparent relationship with God to a self-fulfilling one. If you go out on a street corner and ask a non-believer how they feel about Christians, you're likely to get a wrinkled nose and some muttering about hypocrisy. And I'm pretty sure, when God called us to go out and make Christ-like disciples, that wasn't exactly the response he had hoped to generate.

I want to see a generation of grace and love. A generation where people aren't even going to bother rolling up their sleeves as they crawl in the gutter and love like Jesus did.

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