We have just come through the Easter Season where many people of faith celebrate the resurrection of their Savior and King. I realize it is not always popular to believe in the truth of God’s word, especially in a society that has made the ridicule of “Christians” the only remaining acceptable ridicule. Jokes and vitriolic statements toward Christ, or those who believe in Him and practice their faith in His teachings, is accepted by most. And if, by chance, there should there be any outrage expressed, it is immediately dismissed as overreacting or invalid. If there is any other vitriol spewed at any other race, religion or creed, it is regarded as completely unacceptable and it should be! I simply believe that the same outrage should apply when the vitriol is directed at those who follow Christ.
Every group of people in life, no matter what they are called or what their common bond may be, has people who are narrow-minded, mean-spirited, discriminatory and hypocritical. As a person of faith, I do not like to call myself a “Christian” because more often than not I fail to truly act Christ-like. More often than not, I can identify with the Apostle Paul when he said, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do, I do not do but what I hate, that I do… For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” (Romans 7:14-25) I know all too well that I am just a sinner saved by grace. I need God’s grace and mercy every moment of my life and when I remember who I am and who HE is, I don’t have time to judge anyone else. It doesn’t mean I agree with everything else going on around me or the choices of the people around me but it does mean I understand that the same God who loved ME so much that He was wiling to endure the unthinkable and die the most cruel and terrible death so I didn’t have to, is the same God who loves every other person just as deeply. If that isn’t the great equalizer, I don’t know what is! I’ve heard people of faith say, “If I was the ONLY person on the earth, He would have still come and died just for me because He loves me personally.” I couldn’t agree more but He loves us all the same. His word tells us He is “no respecter of persons.” One sin is not worse than another and He does not love one person more than another. Religion does not like to hear that truth proclaimed because religion is man-made and divides things into compartments. Religion is subjective and conditional but God is NOT! Our human nature tries to tell us that one “wrong” deed, word or thought is worse than another because if that is the case, we can make ourselves feel better by saying, “I’m not as bad as that person.” I hate to break it to you but “that person” is not the measuring stick! It’s easy for us to understand that God can love us, but we find it hard to understand that He loves the “worst” person on the earth exactly the same way! We, as people of faith, need to remember that He sacrificed everything not only for us, but for ALL. Do you know who was drawn to Christ? The sinners, the criminals, the rejected, the poor and anyone else that society (or religion) has turned away from or persecuted. Do you know why they were drawn to Him? Because He IS love! He loved them and did not treat them differently than anyone else. He didn’t condone their misdeeds, but He ate with them, talked with them and loved them through it. Religious people today have made themselves an increasingly easy target for ridicule because they have forgotten who they/we are and who God is.
For those of us who try to live by our beliefs, it is heartbreaking and injurious when we are ridiculed for our faith. We know we are not perfect but neither is anyone else. True people of faith are more likely to forgive than to kick and scream about the wounds inflicted but please don’t mistake our silence for an absence of pain or as permission to continue to inflict injury. Not all people of faith are narrow-minded, mean-spirited, discriminatory and hypocritical. We are not stupid and we are not weak. And when we lose our way and become like the Pharisees of old, please forgive us. When we spew vitriol at others, forgive us. We, like you, are a work in progress.
So as we celebrate the One who died for us and then rose again to conquer sin and death, let us return to our “first love.” There is a God and He loves you. He died to save not only your eternal life, but your day to day life on this earth. He wants only for us to trust Him with our entire selves and to follow His leading day to day. He is someone who is with us when the world turns its back. He wraps His arms around us when we are lonely, hurt, or sad and mends our wings so we can fly again. He wants us to live an abundant life but will not allow us to have more than we can handle. It never ceases to amaze me that I have access to the absolute essence of love and power every moment of my life.
He paid the ultimate price with His own life so that I might have an abundant life on this earth, and an eternal peace with Him one day. I did nothing and He did everything. I stand in awe of what He has done which then drives me to my knees in gratitude for the gift of life He gave me through the sacrifice of His own. He lives! He lives! Praise God He lives!