Thy Kingdom Come :: Truly Loving OthersTuesday, July 26, 2016
I believe there is a very important reason Christ is so important in our everyday lives, and it is this: He made religion simple.
Perhaps we can’t fully appreciate this the way the early Christians might have. After all, we have never had to offer up dead animals for sacrifice for various wrong-doings.
However, in the modern church today, we have found ways to cover up the simple message of Jesus Christ with works to do of our own. We have found distractions and painted a whole new picture that does little to further the real message of Christ.
What is that message?
Paul says it is this:
“With all wisdom and understanding, He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, Which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.”
~Ephesians 1:9-10 (NIV)
It is that last line that gives me pause: To bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
Today, there is nothing close to unity in this world, most especially within our own nation. We are deeply divided. We have firm walls between the church and the LGBTQ community. We are trying to build physical walls between us and our neighboring countries. Our fear and misunderstanding of Islam is quickly forming violent walls between us and Muslims both within our country and on the other side of the world. We are marching in the streets shouting, “Black lives matter!” in an attempt to get society to recognize injustices and prejudice that continue to divide us as Americans. The other side screams back, “All lives matter!”
I do not believe this is the way of Christ. I do not believe this is what God wants for His children—and we are all His children, even those who have not yet been awaken to His love are still His children. When the people of the New Testament asked Christ how they should pray, He gave them what would become known to us as The Lord’s Prayer. One line of the prayer says, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
I think that’s important. I truly believe that God has always wanted us to build His kingdom here on earth by living out the love, grace, and compassion His son displayed. Jesus sat with the sinners and outcasts and ate with them. He healed the lepers, the blind, the beggars and the bleeding woman—all people who would have been misfits in their society. And He didn’t just heal them, He put His hands on them—He made physical contact that no one else would have dare done. He sat at the well and spoke with the sinful woman. He saved the life of a prostitute…
You see, Christ broke down society’s walls. He broke all the rules in the name of loving freely and unconditionally. Today, we pretend that we do that, but we say that we must love while speaking “truth”. This means that Christians today tell people that they are sinful and destined to hell unless they believe in the love of Jesus Christ (okay, perhaps not in those exact words, but you now how it goes). That’s how they are “speaking truth in love” in order to save souls. How’s that delivery working out? Not so well.
If we could just be good and kind and loving, tearing down barriers and walls and forge friendships and relationship, the light of Christ would be seen and things would begin to change. You DO NOT have to speak truth in order for the truth to be given and understood. In fact, for most of us today, we are doing far too much talking, and if we could shut our mouths and try hard to live like Christ, things would change. We would find a nation and world that became at peace with one another. We would find ourselves at harmony and living together in unity. We would find that His Kingdom was being built on earth as it is in heaven.
I know. You’re thinking that this is not realistic. I understand that. We are awfully pretentious creatures that love a good fight. But if it wasn’t possible, why would Jesus tell us to pray it?
Listen friends, it’s easier to fight and talk. It’s much harder to love like Christ and accept that at the moment we are a mess and it’s going to take a lot of effort on our part to build bridges and love those that are far different than us. It’s going to take a lot of effort on our part to shut up and start getting to work building community, relationship and friendships. It’s going to hurt to put aside our differences and our belief that we are “right” in order to listen to other people and try to understand them. It might scare the daylights out of you to stop fearing people that are different than you in order to befriend them and understand them (stop being afraid of Muslims). You might want to refuse to put your weapons away and give up your right to physically hurt someone that might hurt you. And it’s going to sting to try to stop converting people and “saving” them and simply be there for them, loving them, taking care of them, and letting Christ shine through us. Because that’s the first step. That’s what tears down walls. That’s what will allow God to step in and start laying the foundations of His truth as the beauty of His kingdom rises…
That is what will restore us and unite us.
So, please, stop talking for a while. Find someone that is far different that you and have coffee with them. See how you can serve them. How can you come alongside them and be their friend?
Allow there to be room for mystery…
Allow there to be room for Him to work…
He’s going to take care of this mess and restore us…
Be still and know that He is God.