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I’m a Christian. I believe in Jesus, the only Son of God.  He died on the cross for my sins.  I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit and the gift of prophecy.  I believe in the Bible, the inerrant word of God.  I’m a full gospel, Pentecostal, all-in believer. If that offends you, I’m sorry.  This is who I am, and in the wonderful words of Rich Mullins, “I did not make it/No, it is making me.” Full disclosure:  I don’t swing from chandeliers or bark like a dog when filled with the Spirit.  Just FYI.

That being said, I am mindful of how I share those beliefs.  Recently, an associate of mine recounted an argument in which they discussed scientific advances with an unbeliever. 

“I told him it didn’t matter that his son has a doctorate in physics and is respected in his field, or was wanted at this university and that university.  Who cares? Physics doesn’t solve man’s ills,” my compatriot said with a smug smirk.

I stood there and said nothing. Maybe physics can help, maybe it can’t. I don’t know. One college class doesn’t make me an expert. I simply couldn’t get past the offensive blanket statement.  It floored me.  The condescending, dismissing comment damaged that relationship.This “little Christ” made Christianity offensive to someone whom Jesus longs to embrace.

This, friends, is unacceptable.  We know the One who has answers, but we don’t have them all. We don’t get to pass judgment on every decision someone makes.  Our role is to share the good news, be filled with the fruits of the Spirit, and to serve.  The Bible says as we lift Jesus up, He will draw people to Himself.  We don’t draw people, and we certainly don’t win people to Jesus by hammering them with self-righteousness soliloquies.   We are to exemplify excellence by submitting our lives as we follow Christ .  That’s it. Is it easy?  No. It costs us, sometimes dearly. The Holy Spirit in us gives us the forgiveness and power to live outside of our weaknesses and poor decisions. We won’t measure up completely, but that’s what God’s love does:  it covers. It forgives.  It restores.

Just for a moment, put yourself in the shoes of a non-believer.  Maybe you can remember back to what it was like before you became a Christian.  Probably you considered yourself, as many of us did,  a “good person”. How would you want to be treated? As a complete and utter buffoon, lucky to be walking upright, or as a valued member of the human race, loved and respected as one of God’s precious children? Would a belligerent, belittling conversation with a God-worshiper make you want anything to do with that God? I know I would run away screaming.  Probably silently, but still.

For clarification purposes, this is not about “speaking the truth in love”.  We earn that privilege. The other person must trust us enough to hear our counsel. It’s not a given. Even then, we have to ensure our motivation is love, and not simply to be right. We can be right at the expense of a relationship.  While there are times we have to make tough decisions to sever toxic associations, Jesus’ prime directive has always been redeeming the connection between God and man.  We get to facilitate that.

I know I can grow in this area, too. I consider this an open letter to all my fellow believers, myself included.  Please fully receive God’s love and acceptance for yourself so you can freely give it to others.

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:37-40

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. –
I Corinthians 13:4-7

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