The Will Know We Are Christian By What?

‘Maybe there is a beast….maybe it’s only us.’ … Lord Of The Flies

Pain… fear… insecurity… financial stress… failing health… marital problems… greed… ambition… pride… arrogance… hopelessness… sin…. trained professionals have difficulty pin pointing the motivations that lead people to the willful act of hatred towards their brother or sister in Christ.

I recently overheard someone speak some horrific things to a group of people about another individual. My stomach churned as I heard the murderous intent of this person’s heart come out. What made it even more appalling was their honest belief that their blood thirsty desire for revenge put them on the side of God in their hatred. Interesting to put those two words in the same sentence…. God = hatred. Makes you think doesn’t it? I wonder if John the revelator would have ever imagined that the life changing truth – God = love – would be twisted by so called followers of Jesus to the modern rendition – God = hate?

Rather… John lays it plainly on the line when he says, “How can you say that you love God whom you have not seen and hate your brother whom you have seen?

Now unfortunately… most people read these verses and then turn to their neighbor and say – this verse is for you! In fact, it’s really easy to see how this verse really does apply to every one else…. but you. Because if this verse applies to me, then I really don’t have any foundation to build my case for vengeance upon… I can’t continue to blame you for my continued failure… I can’t continue to blame you for my life that doesn’t work…. I can’t continue to derive my fleeting sense of power and ego stroking arrogance that gives me a false sense of security thinking I’m better than you because I’m right… therefore, I’m justified in whatever hateful actions I do against you. Because at that point, you’re not a human being…. you’re not a created being by God… but you are the object of my wrath and the recipient of my justice. You see… that’s the same spirit that captured the mind of HItler and other genocide leaders. They had to dehumanize people in order to exact their hatred upon them.

Contrast that to the gospel. The God who created the universe humbled Himself, became flesh and lived amongst us to communicate one thing…. the love of God. But the same self righteous, self justifying hatred that drives so many bitter believers today…. drove the self righteous religious leaders to murder God’s messenger of love – crucifying Jesus like a convicted criminal.

If I believe that you are created in the image of God – that the Spirit of God dwells within you if you are a born again believer, then how can I remain bitter and unforgiving towards you? How can I take a stand against you? Granted there are examples in scripture of those who needed to face the consequences of their rebellion against God and His Word – but the goal was to restore and to heal – not to condemn. The goal was to redeem – not to cut off.

I recently experienced this. I had the opportunity to really nail someone with “the truth!” But instead, I let it go and demonstrated friendliness. It was hard because I wanted justice. But instead, I rose above my feelings and extended the hand of fellowship. I chose God’s heart over my own.

What is the bottom line? Extend the same love and forgiveness that Christ has extended towards you. Extend the same grace that God has extended to you. Maybe the real problem is that you have difficulty comprehending what Christ has done for you – in which case you need to allow God to have access into that area of brokenness that has yet to receive the Master’s touch.

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