What if…

caviezel-3_passion

If we are Christians, aren’t we obliged to follow Christ?

I think American Christians have become indurated to violence, to irrational killing, to injustice, to a lack of integrity, to a concrete refusal of mercy. We have become Americans first and Christians second, third or fourth after our loyalty to a political party, ideology, sports team or celebrity.

When did we elevate idol-worship over worshiping our Lord?

These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God. (Matthew 15:8-9)

What if we put God first? What if we listened to the voice of Jesus? What if we did as He asked? What if we truly love the Lord our God “with all our heart, all our soul and with all mind?” (Matthew 22:37)

What if we truly loved our neighbor? Remember in response to the question, “Who is our neighbor?” Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan. To extrapolate, that means our neighbors are those we least likely think of as our neighbors. Are we up to the task of going out of our way to treat them with dignity, compassion, love and grace?

What if we truly loved each other? What if we extended ourselves unselfishly to our brothers and sisters in Christ even when they disagree with us? Even when they believe in a different form of faith? Even when they place confidence in a different interpretation of the Bible? Even when they carry forward the heart of Jesus you may not recognize or appreciate? Could we pray for understanding and still pray for the Spirit to create a bond of unity between us?

“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in Me through their message. Father, may they all be one as You are in Me and I am in You; may they be in Us, for by this unity the world will believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:20-21)

What if we truly loved our enemies? Are we willing to listen to Jesus on this point? Rather than belittle, denigrate or condemn, could we pray for them? Could we humble ourselves and walk a mile in their shoes? Could we seek to understand? Could we actually get to the point where we allow the Spirit to work in us so we can open our hearts and minds and be compassionate? To treat them as we would want – expect – to be treated? (Luke 6:27-31,36)

What if we truly showed the world the heart of Jesus through our love for one another? What if we thought before we spoke or acted? What if we truly believed our Father was watching? What if we truly had no doubt Jesus walks with us every waking moment? What if we knew with absolute certainty His hand reached out to us even now?  (John 13:34-35)

What if we truly strive to become more like Jesus? It would mean putting God first in all things: in our relationships, in our home life, in our work, in our daily life, wherever we are, in whatever circumstance we are in. It would mean rethinking offense, anger, argument, fear and forgiveness. It would mean being quick to offer grace, mercy, and compassion. It would mean finally allowing the Holy Spirit to transform our heart and mind.

Brothers and sisters, in light of all I have shared with you about God’s mercies, I urge you to offer your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God, a sacred offering that brings Him pleasure; this is your reasonable, essential worship. Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, let the Spirit transform you from the inside out by renewing your mind and changing the way you think. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete. (Romans 12:1-2)

26 comments

  1. Beautiful post. I couldn’t agree more!!!!! 😍😍😍

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  2. Susan I cannot take this hate anymore!!

    Yes and Amen. Broaden our Vision and open our minds. Be receptive to all people or as much as humanly possible. God has been speaking that wisdom to my heart for several years. Many of my co-workers are Muslim. Good. Hard working. People. Emphasis on the word people. Not the labels the media or society places upon folks with different belief systems.

    Over the years I’ve worked as a museum security guard I’ve developed close relationships with many Muslim Ladies. God showed me that we are more alike than different. We have the same hopes, dreams and goals in life. We laugh, cry, pray and serve. Many of the Women have called me Sister.

    Recently one pregnant young Muslim woman has confided in me the poor treatment she receives from certain Christians. Why? Are Jesus and Mohamed in Heaven having a fight or some sort of battle over who is correct? I don’t think so!!

    As she is young enough to be my daughter I treat her as my child. She is grateful for my kindness and compassion. How could I be anything but Love to her. This young lady carries a new life within her. A baby girl. A Baby Girl who deserves to be born into a world into our country America where she is not despised or hated because she follows Islam. As Corrie Ten Boom took in persecuted Jews during World War Two I will continue to defend and protect my Muslim Sisters as best I can.

    We are All ~~ People of the Book ~~ Children of Abraham.

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    1. You have said it so beautifully, my sweet and beautiful sister. “God showed me that we are more alike than different. We have the same hopes, dreams and goals in life. We laugh, cry, pray and serve.”

      Our walk here on earth with God is too important to hate – ever! Our God never commanded us to hate – the opposite is true. He commanded us to stop any anger or name-calling that would lead to violence. And that violence is not strictly physical violence, but violence in our hearts and minds which leads to hate. Because hate then leads to injustice – individual, group and institutional. How can we continue to ignore Jesus’ commission to make disciples; God’s command to reconcile all people to himself? We certainly cannot follow God through hate or fear. We can only follow our Father and hear the Holy Spirit through open arms, open hearts and love.

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      1. I abhor all forms of violence but I know how that Muslim Sister who was attacked on the subway felt. A few years ago at work I was pinned up against the wall by a white male co-worker. Nobody came to help me. They just watched. Technically he could have strangled me but because I’m a tough old bird and a US. Army Veteran who can be just as violent when I need to be I got him off me. Now this guy was at least 6 feet tall and a good 250 lbs but like I said I defended myself and made him back down so there is a need self-defense because nobody cares about Women especially if you are Black or Muslim. We must learn to fight back. After all I’ve been through I’m not afraid of dying. Basically I’d rather be a dead Warrior than a living coward.

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      2. I agree with defending ourselves, though I could not do what you did (but wish I could). And shame on those who just watched and did not come to your rescue.

        We have a huge problem with violence, yet we also have a problem with those not willing to take a stand, to get involved. We must each make a pledge to walk forward when we see a bully, whatever the circumstance.

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      3. Yes I agree with you 100%. If I had been riding in the Subway car with the Muslim Lady I would have risked my Life. Even with the prospect of getting badly injured I would have spoken up for her. I guess as Women all we really have is each other. As for my reaction to my attacker. Not just my having served in the Army but I’m also a Domestic Violence survivor. After God delivered me from that relationship I made a vow to myself that I’d never allow another man to abuse or put hands on me again. If I’m going down so is he. And believe me in this society whether at work, school, home or even in church there is gonna be some low-life man who feels he can touch you or abuse you in some way. I will also say that if I can get away from the situation I will take the avenue of escape but when I was attacked at the job there was nowhere for me to go so I had to defend myself.

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      4. “as Women all we really have is each other.” I agree. And this is we need to come together without agendas, without ego, and defend each other, lift each other up.

        You are an inspiration. ❤

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  3. Amen. Well said.

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  4. Answer: we would look and act just like Jesus! 🙂
    Love your “What if’s”!

    What you’re saying is so vitally important, Susan. We need to follow Jesus instead of our own traditional notions about God and what we think the Bible means.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes! A+ Mel. We all surely would.

      It is important, especially in circumstances that tend to divide us (like the last several months have done). We must be aware enough of the enemy to recognize when we are angry and in the midst of it, to stop and ask God to transform our heart and our mind. We must be willing to ask the question; if we don’t, the enemy has us, and we will choose to be controlled by him rather than by God’s Spirit.

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  5. Yes Susan and yes again. You know Susan a mature Christian has the mind of Christ. They know his thoughts and ways.His kingdom is in them.Manifesting himself to the world. As I went to sleep last night, it was on my mind some thoughts that the enemy had brought against me.The Lord said take captive your thoughts,guard your heart, for what comes out of the mouth is in the heart. My point is that we have to become christlike,we have to mature.It grieves me when I have thoughts that are not like his.He knows even my heart and mind. This post is the truth. I appreciate you sharing it.

    Much love Tom

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    1. “The Lord said take captive your thoughts,guard your heart, for what comes out of the mouth is in the heart.” Yes, excellent of you to point this out, Tom. And like you, we must be honest and recognize when we do or have done this and ask Him to help transform our hearts and minds.

      Thank you for this humble and thoughtful comment.
      Love to you. ❤

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  6. Great post! The level of violence escalates and we seem to accept it. The numbers of those in need are staggering, yet I go about my daily life. You provide a good reminder and good scripture. It begins with each of us doing what we can. Thank you for sharing your walk of faith!

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Rick. It is during these difficult times we must be mature in our faith. It is during times when the enemy wants to divide us we must remain steadfast to the One who gave us new life. Abiding in Him is different than worshiping an agenda; it places Him and all He stands for above all.

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  7. It would mean … being kind.

    Susan, reading this (as a non-American Christian) I wonder if we make the label of Christianity more important than the reason for the label. Every time I have “walked a mile” in my own shoes and thought it work – it has been just that: work. But every time a have walked a mile for fun it has been just that too. Fun.

    So I wonder sometimes rather than work harder at being good Christians, whether we should try taking “the Christian” out of God and just have fun being kind – just smell the coffee – just enjoy smelling the coffee just because it is coffee – and offering someone else a cup at the same time – just because no reason at all.

    I wonder then if the “issues” you raise here might then prick each of us a little more than they seem to now. Christian and non-Christian alike. Just human beings as one – sharing this spinning globe as one – for a while – together.

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    1. “we make the label of Christianity more important than the reason for the label.” Yes, Paul, I agree with this, and you have said it so succinctly. Kindness. What a concept. To me it is walking the talk.

      Never do I hear such sarcasm and vitriol lobbed from Christians as during Presidential election years. All we do is show others the ugliness that exists in us. We do not show the salt, the light, the difference Jesus asked us to be. And we certainly do not draw others closer to our Father.

      We forget entirely our purpose: to reconcile each other in unity and love to God. It is a sad commentary on our faithlessness. History repeating itself.

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  8. “It would mean being quick to offer grace, mercy and compassion. ” I agree with this statement. Jesus was usually quick to offer these things. He also told those He offered it to that they should “Go and sin no more”. This is known as the “truth” part of the equation and is missing in many of our churches today. Mercy is coupled with truth throughout the Bible, and they need to still be coupled today.

    Mercy without truth creates a watered-down church that is full of sin. Would this be acceptable to God? Truth without Mercy would bring a legalistic church much like the Pharisees. We know how Jesus felt about that!

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    1. The thing is, Pete, he really didn’t have to. Yes, he told the adulterous woman, but by that time, her heart had already changed. And think of Zacchaeus. He made his declaration without Jesus telling him to “sin no more.” So did Matthew. It is the love and grace, the mercy and compassion which changes us, not the finger-pointing. We are changed from within, from a desire to do so, not from someone telling us we should. It is the love of God that gives us that very desire. It is the finger-pointing that sends us running away from Him.

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      1. Good point. I can see that, but we cannot separate the judgment of sin from the mercy and grace. Sin with be judged in the end, and to not make people aware of that does a disservice to the message. Remember – Jesus talked about hell more than heaven. I do not , and never will. Want to pound it down anyone’s throat, but some people will only be reached by the old fashioned fire and brimstone message – I was one of them!

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      2. Sorry it’s taken me so long to respond to this comment, Pete, for I had to pray about my answer.

        Yes, Christ spoke of hell, but He spoke of love exponentially more than anything else. And much of the time He spoke of hell, He directed his words to the religious leaders.

        Yes, we may speak of sin, but when we speak of it, let’s speak of it to those with whom we have a relationship, and speak in a loving voice. And let us speak not only of sexual sin or abortion; let us also speak of gossip and hypocrisy, lying and lack of integrity, jealousy and anger, and name-calling to incite violence, for those also are sins according to our Lord.

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      3. I totally agree. I actually think we spend too much time on what we call it the larger sins and not enough time on the things that happen all the time like gossip and and backbiting. And it always must be done in a spirit of love. I would never approach anyone without feeling that I should buy a prompt from the Holy Spirit. I think I was talking more in general about preaching from the pulpit and the dangers that we face if we do not preach a message of repenting from sin as well as a message of Grace. Love is the preeminent mission of the church there is no doubt about that.

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      4. Yep, we are on the same page. That’s why I like your series on pride so much.

        I think the major issue I have is when sin is preached from the pulpit without love. I think it is why so many have left the church – people feel God is all about condemnation, guilt and shame and they never get the message of love, grace and reconciliation.

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      5. I feel differently about why people have left the church. I think a lot of people that left the church because the church has become wishy-washy on a lot of issues. We don’t stand for truth anymore. The church is it a growing the fastest are the church is it up reaching the Full Gospel and not watering it down. If the church doesn’t raise up a standard and people will walk away from the church. This world is full of various truth and nobody knows what the truth is. We know that Jesus is the way the truth and the life. When the time gets away from preaching the truth that is when people will walk away

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      6. Maybe both reasons, eh?

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      7. Very possibly

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