Friday, April 17, 2009

"God is kind to the unthankful and evil."

"...If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. 35 But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. 36 Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. (Luke 6:32-36)
I'm not sure if some people notice, but the above passage doesn't say, "Be kind to others only if they're Christians or display good morals. Protest the evil behavior of society. Shut out everyone who doesn't agree with you."

But oh my, don't we have too much of that in the church today, and too little of the words that Jesus spoke here?

What I like is the "why" here. Why love our enemies? Why lend expecting nothing in return? Why be merciful to others? Is it because God expects or demands us to be that way? Is it a command to follow? Will it make us better Christians?

I think it's none of that! Rather it's because God is kind. Period. He is kind to the unthankful and evil. He is kind to the people we consider our enemies. He gives, expecting nothing in return. He loves, not with the motive of getting something back, but because He is love. God is love, and love is kind.

God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself --- not protesting their sins!!! While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Can we at least understand, then, that when we're out there protesting the bad morals of others, that's not Christ in us?

Can we talk about the issues and discuss the doctrines with believers and non-believers alike? Sure! But when there's a choice between getting bent out of shape over the ideas and lifestyles of others, and loving them and being kind and merciful to them, I think the latter is much more of a display of the life of Christ in us!

Whatcha think?

11 comments:

  1. Yeah, Joel, I don't think many people notice that passage - I know I never have seen that singled out.

    But isn't it easier to, say, observe some kind of moral law than to show mercy?

    In my former church, there was a lady who had a SEVERLY autistic son that also had mental retardation. Her husband (the boy's father!) had left her, so she was all alone dealing with this young boy all by herself. She went to our church and the pastor "heard" (I believe from someone who really wanted to gossip) that she was living with another man in the church and she wasn't actually divorced from the boy’s father. SO, we deacons were called into the pastor’s office for a meeting. This was the week before we left the church.

    I suggested we at least use the Biblical proscription for "confronting" a believer in sin. That is, the person making the allegation go alone to talk to her about this situation. I was told that that effectively had already been done, so I said then TWO should go, and we all agreed it would happen. Also, two of the deacons would go talk to the man involved in the relationship.

    A couple of weeks after we left, I called this remarkable woman to see how she was doing. She told me she got “the letter”. I asked what letter? She told me she had received a letter asking her to not come back until they made the situation “right”.

    I later heard, that since "so much time had passed" (per the pastor) that a letter was sent instead of her brothers and sisters. A LETTER told her to "get right" or don't come back. A LETTER told a woman struggling by herself with a severely handicapped son, that she had to choose between having a companion and her church. I KNEW her decision - she left the church. Without as much as a phone call, much less a personal visit, from a pastor or deacon.

    In that last meeting, I asked all the men if they had ANY idea what she dealt with on a daily basis. None of them did. I had had the privilege of ministering to him on Wednesdays and Sundays because he was a big boy, could get upset, and I knew how to handle him. I had seen her love and sacrifice for him and the pain and struggle she tried to bury. I could only imagine the stark terror as she lie awake at night thinking about the reality of her situation.

    I tell you that lengthy story to make your point. It was easier to write a letter and kick her out of church, than deal with the messy reality of what Christianity is really supposed to be about. It’s easier to follow the “written rules” Paul laid out for us than to ask the Holy Spirit, “where and how can I show mercy”. Following the written is always easier than seeking His face.

    Sorry to be so long here, but I felt I had to give the whole story to show you an example of what you are talking about. Though she was NOT an enemy, nor was she “unthankful” OR “evil”, I believe it still makes the point about standing up for morals rather than just showing the Christ in us. I think even the World would have shown her more decency than this so-called “Body of Christ”.

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  2. Joel, i agree! I have heard it said many times that we need to "preach" the gospel to a dying world. More and more I'm thinking it would be more beneficial, to look for ways to BE the gospel to a dying world...

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  3. take off the last two paragraphs of this post.
    not because it is right or wrong...just because it gets a little lengthy and it already hits the target two paragraphs before.

    just one opinion...take it off or leave it :-)

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  4. Joel,

    Spot on! Received grace produces grace!

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  5. John,

    That's a sad, sad story, and it really does make the point. There is so little grace, and so much "letter" in the church today. Imagine the love and fellowship that could still be happening with this woman and the people in the church, if only they'd meet her where she's at, as an equal at the foot of the cross, rather than self-righteously rejecting her on the basis of her behavior.

    Lionwoman,

    I couldn't agree more! I posted a link to this post on facebook, and here's my reply to a friend who was joking around about all our protest rallies and signs: "I think the kinds of 'rallies' we should hold are ones in which we ourselves are the 'signs,' and written all over us is the love, grace and compassion of God. As the Apostle Paul said in 2 Cor 3, 'Clearly you are an epistle of Christ... written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart... (He) also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.'"

    Nancy,

    This is actually one of my 'short' posts. LOL. But I've gotten better at making them shorter... sometimes! :)

    Aussie John,

    So true, so true!

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  6. You know, I saw something the other day. I saw that much of 'my' response to the not so average person (the really hurting, obviously messed up, needy and unable to hide it person) was more based out of fear and reserve than anything else. I think many of us can run the opposite direction cause we don't want to be drained and we feel awkward and don't know what to do. But I am seeing that all I really need to do is listen and show them that I genuinely care about them, because my Father loves them so so much. Not run in the opposite direction. It's not as though I haven't gone places like soup kitchens (even had one at our house for a while) with the intent to help someone out, but I feel that it was mostly fake in a way. As though I were somehow higher up and I was doing some sort of good deed. So much do I long simply for the vision of my father's heart. Where there is no hierarchy, just beautiful simple love. Pure and Simple!

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  7. Yeah, I can understand that fear and hesitation that causes us to run the other way. In my case, the false fear is based upon me not knowing how to "fix" them... which is really silly because I don't need to fix them, just love them and as you say, listen to them and genuinely care about them. And by "fix," I don't mean I think I need to set their behavior straight, but I want to fix their hurts and troubles. But like you say, sometimes it's awkward and we don't know what to do, so we just run the other way. I'm learning more and more that 'just being there' with an accepting presence can often be all that's needed.

    "Beautiful simple love." Amen!

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  8. Joel - This is one of the areas where I am totally dismayed by the behavior of today's 'Christians' - that they keep fighting against sinners. They try to become the political power and fight the fight against 'flesh and blood'. It's not going to resolve a thing. The ONLY thing which transforms people is - LOVE. It looks like Christians lost that concept. Jesus never tried to be a political power, neither His disciples.

    The verse you quoted is just amazing, Joel. It humbles me. The fact that He loved me while I was still a sinner takes the pride out of me (Call it 'Christian pride').

    Like you said, it's not a commandment we strive to obey; but BECAUSE our God (The Most High) is kind to the thankful and evil, we too can extend kindness to them.

    Thank you for this post, brother!

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  9. Bino, I fully agree! I become more and more saddened by how our brothers and sisters in Christ are trying to 'advance God's Kingdom' (their own words) through politics and legislation, etc. They think that by trying to clean up the morals of society, they're advancing the kingdom, but all they're really doing is what the law always does to the flesh... causing it to rise up and rebel! They're pushing people away from Christ.

    You're so right - they're making it a 'flesh and blood' battle, rather than loving and accepting people as God does.

    "Jesus never tried to be a political power, neither His disciples."

    Amen! If only this would be more clearly seen in the body of Christ today!

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  10. Praise the living God he used this to speak to me very plan today.I receive it with thankfulness~ Some I seriously needed to hear! Amen and Amen

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