Love without a Clause

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

It seems as though a lot of people struggle with this particular verse. To me, it means exactly what it says. But to others, they’ve twisted it to be some sort of command from God that we need to be hating and shunning those who, well, sin.

Before going any further with the breakdown of this verse, let me remind you that we ALL sin? And all sin is equal in God’s eyes. As humans, we catergorize certain misdemeanours as naughtier or more evil than others, but to God they are all the same. “All wrongdoing is sin…” 1 John 5:17, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

“Yes dear, dinner was delightful, the best you’ve ever made!” while choking down mushy peas is as much a lie as identity theft. Sure, some lies (sins) are more damaging than others, but please understand they are all still LIES (SINS). Paul groups together various degrees’ of sin, but not placing any above an other, in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? DO not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor the drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” Notice how Paul says all of these things are unrighteous? He doesn’t say “the worst kinds of unrighteous (insert here whatever you deem to be the worst) will not inherit the kingdom of God, but the not-so-bad-every-day-folk-who-tell-white-lies have a much better chance.”

So, now that we’ve established that sin is sin and we all do it, let’s focus on the word ‘world’. It’s meaning is generally accepted not as the physical rock and dirt that is the world, but rather it’s used to describe ‘unbelievers’. Let’s read the first part of the verse again. “For God so loved the world [unbelievers]…”. Do we agree? God LOVED the unbelievers. The sinners. The unbelieving, naughty, naughty sinners.

And you know what? He still DOES. It’s not his love that is conditional, there is no clause, no fine print. God loves all of us. So much so, that he allowed his Son to die, in order that (now, here are the conditions) if we follow him, we may be saved. His love is unconditional. Salvation, is conditional. We must love him back. And, you know what, even if we don’t love him back, there’s no punishment (as in, no eternal hellfire – rather, just simple death “for the wages of sin is death” Romans 6:23), because he loves us all, THAT MUCH.

Furthermore, he instructs us to love each other the way he loves us (A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34). I would go as far as to say that we are to love each other regardless of what naughty misdeamenours we have alleged that each other has done. After all, Jesus said “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:5. But, I’ll talk about judgement another day. For now, just go on loving.

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Jesus had a Hissy Fit

Yep, he threw over some tables and yelled at people. “And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons.” Mark 11:15

I’ve been holding back with the keyboard, not wanting to post anything too controversial in case some people get upset. After all, as a follower of Christ I should try to be soft spoken, kind, patient…*slow* to anger. But at some point the boiling pot boils over, I’m not perfect, I’m not Jesus, and whilst I try to be ‘good’, sometimes it needs to come out. Are we supposed to just ignore un-Christ-like behaviour from our brothers’, or perhaps pull them up now and then?

Some thought provoking, probably controversial posts coming up…

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Random Acts of Kindness

We live in a culture where there is not a whole lot of giving, just because. Everything has a price attached, even if it’s just ‘returning the favour’. And on the rare occasion you do something, or are on the receiving end of kindness, we question the person’s motives. Why is it so difficult to graciously accept kindness, yet on the other hand be so quick to complain that ‘the world just isn’t the same anymore’, ‘there’s no neighbourly love like there used to be’, or the best ‘when I was your age’. What is one to do?

Well, for a start, one could use simple manners. Please and thank you really do go a long way. And the old adage, treat others as you would like to be treated (Luke 6:31). I’m not asking you to move mountains. Just simple things. They’ll make you feel better too. But please, don’t be kind to ‘get good karma’ or to have the favour returned. Do it just because (Matthew 6:1-4).

Having someone be kind or helpful really makes my day. And it always seems to happen when I’m having one of those days, so it perks me up. Then  it ticks over in my head that perhaps I should pay it forward. You never know how your actions, be it just a smile, can affect a person. Also to be mindful of my negative behaviours, even plain mediocre-ness (is that a word? I don’t think so!)… why stare blankly at someone when you can smile, or say good morning? Take note of how random people make you feel. Happy? Cheerful? A bit better than before? Nothing at all? Or hurt, upset, angry, judged?

Quite recently I was having a mediocre day. Just going about some errands not feeling overly cheerful, but not bad. I had junior wrapped on my chest (http://evolutionaryparenting.com/five-reasons-to-wear-your-baby/, if your curious as to what I’m talking about). He was happily munching away on a piece of bread, looking up at me with a huge smile and just being all-round cute. I know that having a baby tied to you as opposed to being pushed in a pram is not all that common here in the Western World, but it doesn’t make me an open target. A group of women with their young children in their strollers decided to not so quietly whisper about how uncomfortable junior looked, and how this is Australia, not some third world country and can I not afford a proper stroller? To say I felt pretty rotten is an understatement. But, judgement is not what this post is about, and I’m using it as an example to open up to a potential RAK (Random Act of Kindness) that goes further than your average smile and hello.

There are several things that this charming group of ladies could have done in the above scenario. They chose to be awful (negative), but they also could of done nothing (mediocre). Then they could have smiled as I walked past (positive). But moving onto biblical things here, lets look at Deuteronomy 15:7-11, Luke 12:33 and 1 John 3:17 . The common theme here is charity. These ladies thought I was poor and could not afford a stroller. Can you see the connection I am trying to make here? Now, I’m not suggesting you to go and hunt down every mother carrying her baby and dig deep to purchase her a stroller (I already have one, by they way). However we can help people that are in need. Do you know a single mum who can’t buy the kids new school shoes? Do you know an elderly person who can’t afford to pay the electricity bill and is going to freeze this winter? A family struggling with unemployment and are pretty hungry?

I think I’ve made my point.

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First world problems

I have many. A headache because I haven’t had my daily coffee, there’s dirt on the floors which is sticking to my feet (I’m fully aware of some of my OCD inclinations, by the way), this room is LOADED with junk still half unpacked from moving in 8 months ago, some dirt-bag whizzed in front of me in the parking lot today and stole my Parents’ with Prams bay, and whilst I did for a moment there consider accidentally-on-purpose accelerating instead of breaking, and later pleading insanity due to being a sleep deprived mamma, I stopped. Partly because I’m actually pretty stingy and don’t feel like wasting money on insurance excess in a moment of rage, but mostly because those four big letters on those nylon bracelets you get at youth group ran through my head. WWJD? (For those of you who missed the craze, ‘What Would Jesus Do’).

Fast forward several hours of pondering (and some quiet stewing, too – I got rained on walking from the non-PWP bay), I’ve realised I should dig up my neon yellow WWJD bracelet. Or just be a better Christian. Hah!! Easy to say, much, much harder than some would lead you to believe, to do. Jesus is calm, and wise. Forgiving, kind, gentle and brave too. He doesn’t sweat the small stuff. So, deep breaths, and onto bigger things.

Following my almost car park rage, I saw a little boy, no older than 7. He had big round brown eyes, full of happiness, a toothy smile, a hairless head, and tubes sticking out of his neck. Can you bet I’d forgotten about having my car bay stolen? I flashed a smile at the boy’s mother, she grimaced in politeness back (please, say a little prayer for this family, would you?).

I wonder, had I not had the flash of anger earlier, would I have seen the little boy? Was he a brief message from God that I need to be thankful more, and not to be so quick to get angry? Whether it is a bit of providence, or just coincidence, evidently these small moments have taught me a lesson today. Be thankful that my little boy is healthy. Be thankful for many things. And let go of these first world problems.

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I’m not ashamed to admit…

That I’m off the narrow road Jesus talks about in the gospel of Matthew (7:14 “For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”).

I suppose I should be ashamed, or perhaps a little guilty? But I’m not. Hence the inspiration for this blog, collecting my thoughts and somewhat organising them, putting them into words is helpful to me. Writing about life as a follower of Jesus will encourage me to live it more.

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You will show m…

“You will show me your path of life and I shall be full of the joy of your face and of the sweetness of the victory of your right hand.”
Psalm 16:11

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May 1, 2013 · 2:01 am