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Friday, May 1, 2009

Do Christians Have Anything to Say?

I am afraid Christians have been characterized as hypocritical self righteous blowhards who tell the rest of the world how to act with very hateful speech. The world thinks we don't love them so they cannot understand how we can speak of a God that loves them.

Most people like what they know about Jesus. It is Christians which keep them from knowing who He really is.

The really sad story is that we have something so incredible to say but we are saying it so poorly that no one is listening to us. I believe that we need to say things in a very different manner.

You cannot tell people about love without showing love. This makes no sense to the world. How can we tell the world about love in a hateful manner? It is like making a horrible face while you telling people how good something tastes. They look at what we are doing and don't believe we have a message of love. If we know love, we will show it. Love on people and earn the right to say something.

You cannot tell people about forgiveness and act like you don't have it. This means that we have to forgive others and know that we are forgiven. So many Christians are living a life of penance rather than forgiveness. They are compelled to act like a Christian only because they want to be approved by God because of their actions. They do not live out their own forgiveness nor do they give it to others. Some churches are not known for their forgiveness but for their gossip and condemnation. We must be a people of forgiveness.

You cannot tell people about grace and give no grace. We often point out sinfulness before we exhibit any grace. I once had two deacons who visited a couple who were living together. They condemned the couple for doing so. The couple did not need this speech. They needed to know God's grace. We cannot expect people to act like Christians before they become Christians. We must deliver the message of grace by giving grace. If we don't give grace we don't know what grace is for our own salvation came by grace.

You cannot tell others to clean their houses if you haven't cleaned your own. The world looks at the way that the church overlooks its owns sins while saying others are sinful. The church must deal lovingly and with forgiveness with those within the church. A transgression by a pastor is often swept under the carpet when the Bible says that it should be dealt with in the open. A Sunday School teacher is caught in a sin which will hurt his testimony and he is allowed to continue teaching. These actions do not allow us to be genuine. We must always convey forgiveness but we must recognize that trust has been destroyed and those ministries will not be able to function without trust. Trust takes time to rebuild. Forgiveness is given instantly. We must clearly share this privately and publicly.

You cannot tell others about the love of Jesus while you are boycotting their business. There are businesses which are legal but do very harmful things. They promote ideals that we can never agree with but we cannot tell them to act like us before there is a change in their own hearts. Instead of mobilizing for a boycott, what if we made a concerted effort to bombard the business with letters and cards of love? What would happen if a business got thousands of cards and letters saying that we were praying for the people in the business? What if we so loved the people working there without first condemning them? I am afraid we have Christians organizations which exist for the purpose of telling people how bad they are. I, personally, don't have any interest in them.

We cannot say that Jesus died for them if we don't welcome them into our churches. I believe many prostitutes and addicts would show up in our churches if they didn't think that we would condemn them when they came. They are afraid we would talk about them and shun them. They may be right but that has to change. We are all sinners even if some of us have dressed up and learned to talk a different way.

Yes, we have something to say. The message of Jesus is still as vital as it was 2000 years ago. The problem is not in the message but how we say it. Now, we must earn the right to say it. That means that churches must become places of love, forgiveness, grace and truth.

We do not need to say that sin is no longer real. We need to say that Jesus has died for all sins.

Now, go out and give those around you Heaven!

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