Venture beyond your perception

Social media can be a real blessing and a real pitfall. I enjoy Instagram a great deal more than I enjoy Facebook for many reasons. Facebook my feed is usually bombarded with political posts and judgments from people who are called not to judge and hatred from people who call themselves tolerant. So you see, even though I have tweaked my feed, I still see these things and generally just shake my head, un-offended.

But tonight, I’d like to challenge your thinking on a subject that few seem to venture into without being extreme one way or another. Tonight I saw another post from a fellow believer who was outraged about another lost court case against a Christian florist who refused to make flowers for a “homosexual wedding.” I understand full well what the Word of God says on homosexuality but are we called to judge persons of a same sex attraction? Let me set this up.

“Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Ephesians 5:18 

“The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” Colossians 1:5

“‘On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there,  and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.  When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.”‘ John 2:1-11

Alright, I think I set this up well enough. So, just a few things to highlight here; Drunkenness on wine leads to ruining your life, Jesus is the exact representation of God Himself and Jesus turned water into wine after people were already wasted at a wedding. Hmmmm…. is this the Bible contradicting itself or did Jesus see the Father’s heart for this newlywed couple and bring out more wine so that the wedding celebration could continue?

Do you think Jesus was sitting in a corner writing a list of all the people that were at the wedding who were drunk? Do you think He was happy to be there and celebrate with them? I know that this was most likely a “straight” wedding but the sexual orientation isn’t what I’m zooming in on, it’s Jesus seeing what the Father was doing in those circumstances in spite of what the word says about drunkenness on wine.

If we’re going to shrug and say, yeah but He was Jesus! But didn’t you die, were raised and seated with Christ and given His Spirit? Why wouldn’t we seek the Father’s heart in regard to other situations that seemingly challenge what we read in the word? This is such a huge subject matter, I could probably spend weeks camped out on it. Jesus challenged the Pharisees continually, from washing hands, to hanging out with rabble to healing on the sabbath. If we are under the new covenant (which we are) then love is our highest command. And love, covers over a multitude of sins.

I guess what I am saying here is that there are a lot of things that happen in this world that go against the word, things that are also heart breaking and unthinkable. Humans were given free will, we don’t always do what we should with our freewill, whether it breaks laws and statutes or not. Sometimes the choices we make harm ourselves and others. We already know this. Why are we still outraged and put it on blast all over the internet when it happens? Why aren’t we more inclined to share what we love, rather than bash what we hate? The way I see it, posting all these horrendous or Biblically “offensive” things that happen in the world is no better than standing in the person we’re judging’s face and calling them every name we feel is applicable.

Would you stand in front of an abortion clinic and call all the women there whores? Would you tell someone who is in a same sex relationship how bad they are and how they’re not going to heaven because of how they are living? What about the thief? Or the person with a problem with alcohol or drugs? Are you going to slander them in their faces too? Why not go after the young girl who stole a pack of gum when she was in middle school? Don’t you want to know who these people are before you place your judgments on them? They are people! God sees them and loves them. Don’t you want to know their story? Jesus hung out with the rough and tumble, talked with them, ate with them. Got to know who they were… He loved them. You will never get someone to see things “your way” by telling them how awful you think they are.

I am going to end this with some final thoughts. ” A gentle answer turns away wrath,but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.” Martin Luther King jr.

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

Jesus had nothing but love and compassion for those around Him. When someone caught His gaze, in the midst of whatever kind of life they were living, they saw nothing but love on His face. That was one of the most beautiful things about Him, His compassion. We are called to be imitators of Christ.

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Love overrides all…

‘“Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something they could use against him, but Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger. They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust.When the accusers heard this, they slipped away one by one, beginning with the oldest, until only Jesus was left in the middle of the crowd with the woman. Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.”’ John 8:4-11

Can you even imagine the scene? This woman who was caught in the act of adultery was likely dragged out of bed naked or maybe partially naked and thrown into the dirt and called out for her sin in front of a crowd. She was probably scared; mortified, felt completely exposed in more ways than one and possibly repentant. Who knows what kind of life she lived up until this point. Maybe she was a prostitute or had been sexually abused at a tender age, forever impacting how she viewed sex. We don’t know but one thing we do know, Jesus treated her with dignity in a terribly undignified situation.

I like to think that Jesus was writing in the sand as a sign of His lack of interest in the Pharisee’s antics. I like to think there was an eye roll in there somewhere too. He already knew what they were doing before they even brought the woman to Him. His answer was spoken to them in a language they could understand, the law. But His answer to the woman was given through grace.

” For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:17

” God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.” 1 John 4:17-19 MSG

Jesus didn’t come into the world to condemn it and if we have the same standing in this world as He did, then why are we running around hitting people over the head with the Bible? Why are we getting into arguments with each other about doctrine? Didn’t Jesus tell us to love one another, so that others will know that we are His disciples, His friends? Why is the church so dang mean? Why do we judge others? Why do we shut them out? Why do we not include them because they are different? Or are caught up in an addiction or a lifestyle that may be considered less than savory? Why!? We aren’t here to judge either! If we judge, we are driven by fear and if we fear, love is not perfected in us. If Jesus didn’t judge, then nor shall I! Did you not know that love covers over a multitude of sins? Love raises others up out of muck they are in. Love puts a smile on a persons face and reminds them that they are valued. Can you imagine the impact you can have on people if you just do the very thing Jesus called us to do, love others? Can you see the smiling faces? The filthy coats that will be shed because someone was loved back to life?

I can remember not feeling loved or accepted, it was an awful feeling. The enemy hisses in your ear that you’re not valued and that the world would be a better place without you. It is a heavy burden to feel so low and unloved, or worse, unlovable! There are people out there who have never felt loved, never had someone ask their name, or pay them a compliment. There are people who aren’t even treated like a human being, with a real beating heart in their chest, just like you and I! That is a horrid, horrid truth to consider but it is a fact! And because we have God living within us, we have the distinct honor of loving people. Not just certain people but all people!

We are the church! This isn’t someone else’s problem, it is ours! This is our commission. This is our privilege, our honor. This isn’t a burden or “our cross to bear,” it is an honor. Papa is love and because He loved us first, we have the ability to love others.

Allow your compassion run wild. Let your love set fires in hearts, in communities and in the world! I would rather die and have God tell me that I loved too much, rather than loving too little!

Yeah but what about this scripture that says this, and this scripture that says that!? Just love, pure and simple love. Judgement isn’t our job, just love. We can take and piece together scripture to support our agendas and leave a whole trail of destruction behind us, as the church has already done. I don’t want to hear another story about someone who went to church and got hurt or shut out. It took an awful lot of courage for those people to walk through those church doors after their last bad experience and we’ve gone and done it to them again? Love is of the utmost importance, Jesus said it is the highest command. It isn’t our place to determine if they “deserve it,” just love them. Don’t expect anything in return, just love them.

Papa is so good to have already filled our hearts unto over flowing, now we just have to get out there and let it spill out all over the place! Throw love around like glitter, make the whole world around you sparkle! Let His glory shine through you! Oh man, what a beautiful thing! I am so psyched right now, love, plain and simple, endless love!

God bless you all, I hope this fired you up too, to get out there and just love on others. You won’t run out, you won’t grow tired and your life will be far from boring! Let’s light the world on fire with love!