Not about the don’ts

Sadly sometimes us Christians are known more for our restrictions on life than for the way we live life.

During a break time my supervisor saw me drinking coffee and he was shocked. He knew I was a Christian and some how thought that I wouldn’t drink coffee. I find it a strange thing to think about Christians, our restrictions. ( I do not restrict myself in that area. I do have strong beliefs about God’s view on coffee drinking. I believe the reason God created water was so we could make coffee).

I don’t want to be known for what i don’t do. As Christians, What should we be known for?

Jesus said that we would be known by our love for each other.

“34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 13:34-35

What if we’re not? What if we just cannot get along? It’s actually a pretty big deal. If we cannot love the people we can see, how can we claim to love a God we cannot see?

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”

1 John 4:16-21

It sounds like the way we treat others is a window into our heart for God. This sobers me. It makes me look closer at how I treat people.

But what about those difficult people? Is there like a “pass” for difficult people or situations?

Not really.

“27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you. 32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Luke 6:27-36

What if I fail? verse 36 gives me hope. God is merciful. God’s forgiveness is on a conveyer belt that doesn’t quit. He is committed to completing the good work he began in me. What is true for me is true for us, for all of us that are following Jesus.

Is this expectation or requirement to love just about how we feel towards others? The apostle James makes it clear that following Jesus means living a life of love in action.

“If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment. What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

James 2:8-17

I am to live a mercy filled life, full of love in action, knowing that God is watching and so is the world.

Mary and I were trying to move from our neighborhood to a house closer to my work. We made a couple of attempts at selling out and moving away. They both failed. When we asked God in prayer about why we couldn’t leave we felt like he told us, “you aren’t finished there yet. You have neighbors who haven’t heard about how much I love them, they haven’t been told yet about how I gave Jesus to die for them. Finish the work I sent you there for, then we will talk about where you go next.”

We are on a mission to tell the world about Jesus. Part of the world we have been sent to is a block of cute little 1940s cottages filled with 21st century families smack dab in the middle of Washington state. One of our best advertisements for the benefits of following Jesus is, how we treat each other.

Let’s get to it.

Author: Peterloeffelbein

I am a man. I am an older man. I am a husband and a dad and a grandpa. I am a disciple of Jesus. Because I am a disciple of Jesus much of what I write is about him, and I usually end what I write with a question, do you the reader know that Jesus loves you? He does. He loves us all but he loves you specifically. He loves me specifically. What will you do with that information today?