Who Do You Resemble? (Relationships -vs- Religion)
I've been contemplating something for the last few days. (This is for those of us who are called Christians and are enlisted in the army of The Lord.) We believe God to save, even the worst of sinners, yet we tend to hold people’s past sins, mistakes and failures against them. It’s as if we trust in God for salvation, but not for redemption. We believe Him to forgive sin, but not to redeem and free us from sin. The same God who forgives us of sin also redeems us from sin. The Word of God says so, and we believe the Word of God. But, if we really believe that, then why do we imprison people in their past when the blood of Jesus has washed them clean and freed them? And if we have an advocate with the Father, who makes provision for forgiveness for when the saved and the redeemed slip up and make mistakes, then why are we the only army that kills it’s wounded?
Is it possible that while we carry His name, we are really not that much like Jesus (seeing how Jesus is relational and not religious)? Come on now…take a good look at us!! Who do we resemble the most…Jesus, who protected prostitutes (Mary Magdalene), talked to town harlots (the woman of Samaria), had dinner with swindlers (Zaccheus, the tax collector), showed compassion to those dying of contagious, incurable diseases (the 10 lepers), and was attentive to the needs of a criminal (on the cross next to Him) even when He was having the worst day ever…or the Pharisees, who were ready to stone the prostitutes, had nothing to do with the harlots, wouldn’t be caught dead with the swindlers, cast the diseased out of the city and didn’t just crucify the criminals, but also an innocent man, simply because He didn’t fit into the mold that they thought the Messiah should fit and because their sense of entitlement and position with the people was threatened by the popularity of this illegitimate rebel rouser whose bloodline was questionable?
No really; I’m serious! Take a good hard look at us! How quick are we to talk when Sis. Sally Sue’s dress is a little too short and tight (the Mary Magdalene’s)? How quick are we to disassociate with someone whose religious beliefs may be slightly different from ours (the Samaritans)? (And if we don’t share Christ with them, how else will they come into the knowledge of the truth? Jesus said that He NEEDED to go through Samaria.) How quickly do we pass judgement on people, make them out to be cheaters/crooks, and kill their character and reputation simply from hearsay or from the mistakes of their past (the tax collectors)? How hard do we try to avoid those sick and dying from HIV and AIDS (the lepers) and therefore show them no compassion? We just want to cast them as far away from us as possible. How many of us would take the time to visit a prison inmate on a good day, not to mention a bad day when everything is going against us? Many of us probably wouldn’t even want to be bothered with our next door neighbor’s issues when we’re having a bad day. Why? Cause…we’re having a bad day!! “Leave me alone! Can’t you see I’m having a bad day? Ughhhh!”
The issue here is, if we are soldiers in Christ’s army, then we should look out for our comrades and those fighting along side of us. If we are bearing the name of Christ, then we should be like Christ! We should look like Him, love like Him, forgive like Him, see a need and address it like Him. But instead, we tend to pass judgement, making assumptions as to why they are suffering like they are. OR we tend to negate the power of Jesus’ blood and the work He finished on the cross when we continue to hold a person’s pre-redemptive, pre-bloodwashed past against them. So what happens is, when our fellow soldier is down, instead of pouring in oil and wine to help them heal, instead of bearing them up and getting them to a place of safety, we tend to kick them while they are already down and injured, doing even more damage and, often times, resulting in their death. We have killed countless reputations, good names and characters with our mouths, our gossip, and our lack of compassion.
I have been taking a hard, introspective look at myself in the mirror to see who I resemble the most. Do I look like the self-righteous, highly religious Pharisee, who puts appearances, perceptions and traditions above relationship, or do I look like Jesus, who loves in spite of, unconditionally and completely, seeing not the past tense person or even the present tense person, but the future tense person…seeing who God has purposed them to be? Being like Christ allows me to love the present tense person, even though they may not be the future tense person they are purposed to be yet – but that’s okay because I am able to fully love them as they are now, irregardless of who they were in the past, and walk with them into the fulfillment of who they will be. That’s being like Christ! That’s being relational! That’s trusting in the Gospel, the power of God unto salvation, to do the work that it’s purposed to do. That’s believing and having faith that God is not only able to save, but to redeem, to transform, to change, to restore, to make all things new!
When we really become relational like Christ, we can’t help but have encounters with Christ as we encounter each other. We will understand more and more that our relationship with others is a demonstration of our relationship with Christ, and as we walk in love daily with each other, we will have DAILY ENCOUNTERS WITH GOD!!