“Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did… Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness.” 1 John 2:6,9
A couple of weeks ago, I had lunch with a dear friend of mine I hadn’t seen in years. Over a bizarre series of events, God brought us back in contact with each other, and I couldn’t wait to catch up on all that was going on in her life. As we visited, she began opening up about the struggles she was facing. It was soon obvious to both of us that she was at a crossroad. As a fellow believer in Christ, I asked her where her faith was in all that was going on and if she had prayed over these issues. Her response was heartbreaking. This is what she told me.
I don’t think I believe in religion anymore. Over the past few years, I have seen more love in non-Christians than Christians. In fact, most of the Christians I know are full of anger, hate and self-righteousness. Honestly, I just don’t know if I believe in a Heaven where these self-proclaimed Christians are going to spend eternal life just because they believed in Jesus. I’m beginning to question if I believe in Jesus at all anymore.
Wow. I was speechless. She proceeded to tell me of some of the encounters she had experienced with her Christian family and friends. As I listened, I was shocked at what she shared, and quite honestly, sickened from the words and actions of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. God, in His infinite wisdom and impeccable timing, had brought this friend back into my life, and when she made these statements, I knew exactly why. You might think it was for me to win her back to Christ (and eventually, I pray that it is), but as I sat there, I realized God was, once again, molding me in my Christian walk. I began to question if I was showing the true face of Jesus to those around me? Is love, acceptance and forgiveness what I lead with in my witness to others or do I come across as arrogant, close-minded and unloving as the Christians she had been encountering? Was I, in fact, a cheap imitation of Christ?
As followers of Jesus, we are called to show the world around us glimpses of Heaven. We are to strive to live differently, while at the same time, recognizing we too are sinners. We are to celebrate being a child of God, while acknowledging so is everyone else. We must concede that God loves each of us equally, and He is desperate for each of us to ultimately come home to Him. Yes, I am called to hold those around me accountable, but I am also called to do this with love as my motivation – not my selfish, human inspired agenda! As sinners saved by the precious blood of Christ, who are we to throw stones in the first place? Remember the adulterous woman in the temple courts? Jesus point blank asked “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7) Yes, Jesus held people accountable. Yes, He was angry at the sin He encountered. Yes, He was frustrated with this fallen world. But, His love overpowered any other emotion He was feeling, and Jesus tells us to do the same – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). “Whoever claims to live in (Christ) must walk as Jesus did… anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness” (1 John 2:6,9). Oh Lord, please don’t allow me to live in the darkness – help me to truly understand it is love that wins others to Christ!
I will be held accountable one day – for my words, my actions, and ultimately my servanthood to our Mighty King. I pray on that day He will say the words of my mouth and meditations of my heart were pleasing in His sight (Psalm 19:14), but more importantly, I pray He will say He knew me because I looked like His Son – I loved like His Son – I exuded peace like His Son – I practiced patience like His Son – I forgave like His Son – I was gentle and kind like His Son. This is how He will recognize each of us. This is how others around us will recognize Him. As a family of believers, let us remember, we are always giving glimpses of His wonderful glory – today, may we grasp the power this responsibility gives us in leading others to Christ or away from Him.
Thank you Lord today, for faith, hope and love – help me to remember the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13), and help me to always lead with that.
Until next time, practicing my best imitation of our King… Katie