“They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love” (part two)

Anyone who sees Christians going about the business of loving people–even the unlovely–should be able to understand that Christianity is the ultimate religion of love and peace. So loving and so peaceful,  in fact, that Jesus prayed and asked God’s forgiveness for the people who were putting Him to death–in circumstances where hatred, anger, and resentment would have been the normal human emotions. Especially since the Romans and religious leaders responsible for His death  weren’t the least sorry for what they were doing.

What amazing love! Love that deserves the description “awesome” above everything else.

Why do so many people view the Bible as a textbook of hatred (and how many of them have read the Quran?) and Christians as the most hateful people on the face of the earth?

Maybe they’re too busy looking backwards at wars and persecution that were carried out in the name of Christianity in days long past. By people who never would’ve sung, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Not unless they’d done it hypocritically.

Or is the problem that Christians believe “Do not murder” means preserving the lives of innocent babies rather than allowing pregnant women to erase their sinful “mistakes” by killing their babies in utero because of the inconvenience or embarrassment of being pregnant? Or that “Do not commit adultery” interferes with the desires of the many individuals who believe post-modernism has eliminated the need for moral standards of behavior regarding anything? Or is the problem that biblical admonitions against homosexuality affect the “rights” of the vocal gay minority to practice their sins publicly–and to flaunt them?

Or is the problem that  non-believers see Christians as judgmental? The Bible says murder, adultery, and homosexuality are all wrong. The Bible is very clear about those issues. All of them are sins–things God disapproves of. Things that stand in the way of having a right relationship with Him.

But the Bible also specifies a number of other sins. Is it right for Christians to go around ranting at gay people for being sinners when–in reality–each one of us is a sinner in our own individual ways. No one is righteous on his own merit, and no one is “good enough” to deserve God’s love.

I’m not advocating the toleration of sin–any sin. But I believe strongly in the popular saying, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” I believe one of the worst sins Christians practice is failing to demonstrate the kind of love and forgiveness Jesus modeled during his earthly ministry. For me, that’s the bottom line.

“They will know we are Christians by our love.” And if they don’t see that love, then they have a right to question our faith–and even the basis of what we say we believe in.

If you’re a Christian, do others see a life filled with love, even when you don’t feel very loving? If you’re not a Christian, has any supposed Christian ever treated you in a way that made you question the reality of his faith? How about leaving a comment, please.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Advertisements

“They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love”

The title of this post comes from a song that used to be quite popular in churches. Yet–probably more because of its continuing relevance than its former popularity–our music director dug it out again for congregational singing a few months ago. It was great to hear everyone singing it–some people for the first time in years, others for the first time ever. It has a simple but memorable tune–it’s the catchy kind of song a person’s not apt to forget once he hears it.

Catchiness isn’t the point, though. For many years, I’ve thought of songs that are meant for more than just dancing to as messages from the composer to the listener or to the singers who’re also listening as they sing. The lyrics are the actual letter. The heart. The meat of the message. The melody–along with the song’s arrangement–is just the envelope used for delivery.

Consequently, I think lyrics are immensely more important than tune and arrangement, even though people tend to overlook–or dismiss–songs that don’t “sound good” to them. I’ll be honest; I do that, too. But at least people can also read lyrics and get something out of them regardless of the tune and arrangement–if they choose to.

The Bible–particularly the New Testament and many of Jesus’ teachings–emphasize the importance of love. Christians are admonished to love their enemies as well as one another, to turn the other cheek, and to give a cup of cold water in Jesus’ name.

If you’re not familiar with the cold water reference, it simply means to do good things for people who’re in need. But no matter whether we’re giving to the needy, serving at a soup kitchen, visiting prison inmates, or performing any of hundreds of other possible ministries, we should do those things as if we were ministering to Jesus Himself.

Pretty important, huh? It’s no wonder “they will know we are Christians by our love.”

My original  post started getting a bit lengthy at this point, so I’m going to save the rest of it for Wednesday.

Are you familiar with “They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love”? What do you think of the idea? How about leaving a comment?

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

A Tale of Forgiveness Denied

HandsOff

The older I get, the more I appreciate the importance of forgiveness. When we tell God we’re sorry for a particular sin and will do our best not to do it again, He mercifully forgives it and forgets it so much better than we humans can ever do.

Nonetheless, if we claim to be God’s children, we have a heavy debt: forgiving others. It’s not always easy. And forgetting can be more difficult than forgiving.

Jesus modeled perfect forgiveness when He was dying on the cross. He forgave the men who were crucifying Him. I feel confident that He could have forgiven his betrayer, Judas Iscariot, just as He forgave the disciple who denied Him, Simon Peter.

So Jesus set the example I needed to follow when someone cheated me out of thousands of dollars some years ago. It took years, and—as you can tell from my reference to it—I’ve not forgotten the incident. What you can’t see is in my heart, though. The resentment is gone, even though the memory isn’t.

So, what’s this “Tale of Forgiveness Denied” then?

Some years ago, I used to walk at lunchtime with a couple of coworkers—ladies. One day I brought my camera to work—this was before the days of cell phones with cameras—to take on our walk that day. I thought it would be nice to have a picture of my walking partners.

Wouldn’t you know one of them was absent that day. I already had the camera around my neck when I learned that, however, so I still took it when I went to walk with the other lady.

She told me not to take a picture of her. I know that some people are really skittish about having their pictures taken, but I’m also aware that some folks just say that because they’re modest about their looks and don’t really mind the picture.

I kept holding the camera up as if I were taking a picture, and she kept protesting. Finally, I snapped a picture, and she blew up at me. Only then did I realize how badly I’d misinterpreted her protests. I felt horrible.

Even though I had several other shots on that roll of film, I rewound it, took the film out, and gave it to her, along with my apologies. I hoped that would take care of the problem.

It didn’t. I lost her as a walking partner, and it was years before she was willing to talk to me again. And when she did, it was as if we’d never had any issues. I suppose that meant I was forgiven.

I’m not judging her, but I’m saying she taught me a lesson. If I fail to forgive someone who’s wronged me, I may not only be destroying a good relationship but adding to that person’s guilt. Unnecessarily.

And grudge holding isn’t doing me any good, either.

Have you failed to forgive someone in your life for a wrong he or she has committed? Just think about Jesus and the soldiers who put him to death. He forgave them, and they probably weren’t even sorry for what they’d done to Him.

<>

Please leave a comment if something in this post has spoken to you. I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. If you’d like to see “As I Come Singing,” check it out here.

Best regards,

Roger

 

 

Crosses–More than Jewelry

myCross     crossKathleenHappy     myDove

For many years I enjoyed making wooden crosses and doves by hand. I quit making them a few years ago, just as I quit making walking sticks. The effort was just too hard on my hands.

After drawing a rough shape on a ½” thick piece of wood, I cut as close to the design with a coping saw as I could. Before I did further shaping, I drilled a hole for the leather lace to go through; that way, if the wood cracked or I messed up the hole, I didn’t waste time doing more.

Next, I used very coarse sandpaper to get rid of the excess, which could take anywhere from one to two hours. The final shape was never the same.

I smoothed it with fine sandpaper. Sometimes I finished my project with a coat of polyurethane—I did that for all of the doves—but sometimes I rubbed my own skin oils into the wood of the crosses. That sounds a little weird, but it gave the crosses a unique finish.

I usually gave the cross or dove to somebody who had admired the ones I wore.

My wife has been wearing the same cross for more than ten years. Only rarely does she wear another necklace rather than the wooden one that means so much to her.

That brings up an important point. There’s no telling how many people wear cross jewelry simply because they like it—without necessarily being Christians or having any understanding of the significance of a cross.

To those people, I sing part of this song I wrote in 1999:

I wear this cross upon my neck to tell how God loves me.
I wear this cross upon my neck to show I love Him, too.
I wear this cross upon my neck to say that God loves you,
For His Son rose from death to give us life
When we trust in Him.

Have a blessed Easter.

<>

Please leave a comment if something in this post has spoken to you. I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

By the way, “On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I use “As I Come Singing”—check it out here—to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.

Best regards,
Roger