This month: 189 - Freedom in Christ
Exploring the Heart of Restoration

Remember Me    Register ›

Tag archives for unconditional love

What’s your favorite worship song? Lately, mine has been ‘Jesus Loves Me’. I sing it on Sundays and Wednesdays with kids who know it well and during the week with kids who are learning the words. Anna Bartlett Warner wrote the poem that was put to music sometime around 1862 and it quickly became a church phenomenon.

Recently, a friend sent me the video of her barely three year old happily belting out the song unaware of the power it holds and it was adorable. I watched a couple times wishing adults could sing it with the same enthusiasm.

We all know it but what would happen if we really got the words? Would we treat that annoying person at work better? Would we let the car cut in front of us during rush hour traffic? Would we welcome the outcast, the immigrant, and the marginalized? Would we go out of our way to connect with them in ways that would bring God glory? Would we shut down gossip with prayer? Would our churches be filled, not with people punching an archaic time clock but with those excited to be with others who believe in the hope that the love of Jesus brings? Would our marriages be rejuvenated? Would our children grow up in homes that continually tell them who they are in Christ? Would we quit relying on politics and start recognizing King Jesus? Would we forgive our enemies? Would our curbs be filled with men and women on fire to proclaim the love of Christ? Would justice be a priority? Would our racism and bigotry be put to death?

What if we made it a habit of singing how Jesus loves us, not only to our three year olds but to our thirty-three years olds? It might just change the world and remind us that we will only find our peace, hope, and belonging in his love.

Accepting the truth of God’s love won’t take away the pain and depression this world doles out, but it will equip us for the battles. It will remind us who we are in a world that tells us otherwise. We need that. Church, you need to believe how loved you are so you can tell others.

Have you been broken and used? Jesus loves you.

Are you questioning your worth? Jesus loves you.

Are you in the throes of grief? Jesus loves you.

Have you been hurt by those who should have been trustworthy? Jesus loves you.

Have you lost your faith? Jesus loves you.

Are you an outsider that feels like you’ll never belong? Jesus loves you.

Are you grieving your childhood? Jesus loves you.

Are you overwhelmed with life and it’s endless stream of intrusions? Jesus loves you.

Are you angry at God? Jesus loves you.

Do you feel like no one truly cares? Jesus loves you.

Are you a misfit? Jesus loves you.

Have you been hurt by the church? Jesus loves you.

I invite you to listen to the words of this song. Sing them along with your Lord until you start to believe them. He’s singing over you.

There is nothing more true than the fact that you are loved. You belong. You matter. Ask God to help you believe it.

Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones to Him belong
They are weak but He is strong.

Yes Jesus loves me
Yes Jesus loves me
Yes Jesus loves me
The Bible tells me so.

Sometimes we just need a reminder of how much we are loved.

In the really gripping stories, the bad guys have some secret weapon that seems to be overwhelmingly superior in strength to anything the good guys can muster, and with a bit of cunning, the enemy will surely thwart the good guys with their diabolical weapon.  In these enthralling stories, the bad guys always have some powerful tool at their disposal that disables and immobilizes even the strongest hero. And while we know the good guys will win somehow, we never know how until nearly the end of the story.
How many times in your life have you had a well-intentioned conversation shut down with a simple, “Jesus said ‘Thou shalt not Judge”?  It seems like “who are you to judge me” or “you christian people are so judgmental” is like Kryptonite for modern believers.
In our culture, if you feel the slightest bit uncomfortable with the direction of any conversation, simply cry out, “Don’t judge me” and like a blue-statically-fizzling-forcefield, you will be protected from a distasteful dialogue, you are instantly shielded from anything incriminating and you can go along your merry way.  “Don’t judge” is your get-out-of-jail-free card, and oh, here’s your free $200 as you pass Go.
It seems like we are in quite a quandary.  They have us up against the wall.  Our hands seem tied.  Their ace in the hole has, it seems, successfully stifled us.  Who are we to judge?  What gives us the right to point out the faults in others?  Maybe they are right, and we should just mind our own business.
After all, didn’t Jesus clearly say, “Don’t Judge” and didn’t He say something about getting the log out of your own eye before you go fumbling around, swatting at a speck of dust in someone else’s eye?  Of course He did.  And isn’t it ironic that people will point to one prohibition from Jesus, that being don’t judge, to justify a lifestyle that elsewhere, had they bothered to read, Jesus would clearly denounce?  Yes it is.
My goal isn’t to let anyone off the hook here; judgmental people have issues they need to deal with, and the people being “corrected” for messing up their lives have serious issues to fix too.  Perhaps the missing piece for most people is the vulnerability factor.  Whenever we go down the road of pointing out the faults in others, we invite in some critiquing of ourselves as well.  Which after all, is not only fair, it should also be welcomed, as Proverbs 27:17 points out, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”  Let’s see if we can reconcile this conundrum about do we judge or do we keep our lips sealed, and let’s see if we can remain inline with the heart of Jesus along the way.
Let’s look at what Jesus actually said in Matthew 7:1-6,
“Judge not, that you be not judged.   For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.  Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?  Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye?  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.  Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.”
Number one, there are ways to address people who are screwing up their lives without being critical or harsh or hateful.  And frankly, if someone is on the train-tracks and a train is about to run them over, we have an obligation to warn them about the direction they are headed.  So, yes, just like the saying, “friends don’t let friends drive drunk,” if we care about someone, sometimes we do have to interject ourselves.  Remember, James writes, ” My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20)
Also, Jesus’ famous statement “don’t judge” comes within the context where He warns about pigs and dogs, and pearls such things, in other words He requires we make judgement calls about situations and people, without sentencing them eternally.  There is a difference between judging someone and making a judgement call.  Judging someone entails we know their status with God, and we are assigning them their eternal status in heaven or hell.  Making a judgment call, on the other hand, is pointing out an observation on an objective fact without playing God.   See the difference?
The “don’t judge me” phrase being tossed around these days forgets, we do have the obligation to discern good from evil, safe from harmful, right from wrong, and this is in the context that we need to do a little self-checking along the way.  Jesus never forbids or prohibits us from stating the obvious, He simply says make sure your own lifestyle reflects someone with credibility.  Be someone worth listening to.  Don’t miss it, Jesus said once your log is out of the way, you’ll see clearly enough to help remove that irritating speck of sawdust from your brother’s eye.
Brother’s eye.  Brother’s eye?  Does this mean this passage is built on the relationships between believers, and those outside the church aren’t even at stake here?  Wouldn’t that be judgmental too, though?  Paul wrote in Romans 6:20, “When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.”  Yet, if someone is outside of Christ, don’t they deserve to hear about His saving grace?  From Jude 1:22-23, it looks like yes, “And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.”  Perhaps christians should be held to higher standards, but everyone deserves a shot at life.
One thing is clear here, our standards which we have for others will be held up for us to uphold.  If we expect perfection from others, Jesus may just expect that out of us.  Also, it seems like it’s human nature to point out other people’s mistakes while ignoring our own, this may be one of our greatest character flaws.  But also notice, this whole paragraph requires we recognize the significance of sins, i.e., lesser & greater wrongs summed up as sawdust & logs.  And, we need to be cautious with whom we distribute holiness to and with whom we share our jewels with.  Events could turn bad quickly, and we could be endangered instantaneously if we are unable to make a judgement call.
So, you can’t have it both ways.  You can’t be a christian who lives like a hypocrite and call out the sins in others, and, you also can’t live like a reprobate pagan and quote Jesus only on the “don’t you judge me” verse.  If you want to help others live holier lives, set the example.  If you want to use Jesus’ phrase about not judging others, you need to accept the rest of His teachings as well, which call us to submit to Him and live lives of holiness.
The reality of it is, there are consequences from our actions and attitudes.  When we live in sinful lifestyles and when we are judgmental, we suffer and other people suffer.  I could be wrong, but I think Jesus teaches in this passage that being judgmental might just forfeit our own salvation.  I doubt I’m wrong about this, but I’m fairly certain that Jesus teaches several times in the Gospels sin is bad because sin separates us from the Father.
Everyone seems to think Jesus will condone whatever course of action they see fit, at the time.  Would Jesus condemn a critical person’s judging of another?  Yes, absolutely.  Would Jesus let the one being judged off of the hook because they got “judged” by some bible-thumper?  Hardly.
Maybe, if we showed more respect, lived lives that displayed unconditional love, and freely offered forgiveness, maybe people would ask us for advice or help more often?  And, maybe if we didn’t make stupid choices, people wouldn’t feel obligated to point out our mistakes.  Ouch.
Consistency, that’s usually what’s missing whenever we take the words of Jesus out of context and seek license to live however we want or treat others however we want.  Seek for better consistency, and maybe you’ll gain the credibility you desire.  I’m pretty sure consistency is the way we disarm the evil one’s secret weapon.  Now, do we cut the blue wire or the red wire…?
« Previous Entries
Next Entries »