Finding God's Winning Spirit

Testimony: Part 2

July 13, 2015 | Greg Smith | Christianity

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Last week in Testimony (Part One) I referenced a pastor who said, "The number one reason most people say they don't go back to church is because they have been there before." As "church goers" we have heard this time and time again and typically blow it off for what it often is – an excuse for people to avoid making a commitment about religion or faith. 

As I mentioned last week this quote haunted me – after all, if you hear something over and over there may be some truth in it. Is it true that, from their point of view, there is nothing to be gained by worshiping with us on Sundays?   Other questions came to mind, “What do those of us who confess to be Christians have to offer those who are not? What would bring that person back to Church the second time? How does knowing Christ make us different?  

For me the answer is pretty simple – unconditional love. I do not mean a mamby - pamby, holding hands singing Kumbaya kind of love, I mean a real hard, blue-collar, active, self-sacrificing kind of love. The kind of love Jesus had for His accusers, the “love your enemy” kind of love we are told to have in Matthew 5:44, the kind love that is conveyed no matter what someone has done, who they are or where they come from.  An unconditional love that isn't just about what we feel or say, but mostly in what we do, and others see.

I am not talking about a love that is determined or diminished by doctrine or society but rather a love that is based on commonality – “that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  A love that is not about me or what I think is right or just but focuses and responds to another. A love that allows us to genuinely pray for another not because I am above or they are below but because we the same – saved by grace. The kind of love that is only possible through Christ.

Unconditional love does not require we forfeit our faith or abandon our core beliefs – Christ never compromised His relationship with the Father. If anyone had the right to focus on the faults   of others it was Jesus yet I dare say that anyone who encountered Him was moved by his personal passion and love for them.  Unconditional love does not condone sin nor attempt to avoid evil it just exists in the midst of it. This is what we should strive for.  

What makes us different is not who we are but rather who we know. It is true that I personally am not the reason you should come to my church but, “I would like to introduce you to someone who can make you whole.” For today’s church to grow we are going to have to differentiate between knowing Christ and thinking we are Christ – the former leads to “loving our neighbor as ourselves” and the latter leads to self-righteousness.

After all, it is difficult to embrace another if we are pointing at them. 

 

Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'"   Matthew 22: 37-39

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