Thursday, October 4, 2012

From the Faith & Liberty series: Be the proof of God's love

In these essays written in the spirit of spreading the message of Faith & Liberty, of all the verses in the Bible you can expect me to quote with great regularity Matthew 7:1,2.

If you’re more of a fan of the King James Version, those verses read: “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with that judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with that measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”

If you prefer the more modern English translation, the New American Standard Bible tells us: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”

These seminal words of the Sermon on the Mount were Christ’s calling to His disciples and the multitude which had followed Him into Galilee at the time to refrain from looking upon one another as anything other than equals and fellow children of the Father.

When one examines how we regularly address one another directly and gossip about each other in private, it is hardly a stretch to deduce these two sentences also were His prophetic warning to us all in anticipation of our behaviors in modern times.

One such trend along these lines is how Christians – be they devout or in name only – regard those who are not believers. This refers to minor disdain all the way to outright scorn.

Be honest: if you happened upon someone wearing a T-shirt displaying the message, “Proud Atheist,” in what manner would you acknowledge them?

While (admittedly) the example above may be exceedingly rare in occurrence, my advice is instead of reacting to such a person negatively, give consideration that at least any banter with them will be absent of any pretense – which is a good thing.

Refrain from showing others with differing beliefs (or an adamant absence of belief) contempt or derision. If you believe we all are children of God, and if you believe in His Son and His holy Word, then recall his declaration to the apostles after the Last Supper in John 13:34 – “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

Thus, to disparage anyone who does not believe (or even believes differently) in Christ is to ignore the Biblical truth that we must love our neighbors as ourselves and do unto others as we would have them do unto us – and do so regardless of how we may be received by them, including turning our other cheek to such a neighbor.

We cannot limit extending goodwill only to others who believe as you or I do. We must love all, not just our fellow Christians.

Bear in mind this lesson from earlier in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:46: “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?”

Just as important, if you wish to convince others who do not share your faith that following it is God’s calling to us all, we must do far more than simply commit Bible verses to memory and share thoughts on His glory during times of fellowship: we must live our lives to serve as examples of God’s glory.

We must be the evidence of His eternal love.

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

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