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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Upside Down - Love, Truth, Grace - Human

Lately some things in my little world have been turned upside down.

Turns out you can love Jesus and have voted for Obama.
You can like Rob Bell and not be a heretic.
You can be a tongue-speaking charismatic and have a deeply grounded relationship with the Lord.

I am so thankful God is on the throne and I am not.

To some of you I probably sound like a nut. The thing is, I'm learning that loving Jesus and being a Christian doesn't mean you vote republican, only share the gospel one way, or live out of a certain "box." While I recognize that there is truth, unmovable and unchangeable, we are all a work in progress, just trying to figure it all out. And while we figure it out (work out our salvation), we need to remember that we are just human. We are all desperately in need of the beautiful saving grace of a God that is bigger than our judgments, our weaknesses, and our growth time line. In all things, and in all our differences, we need to love one another and seek unity.

I love truth. I will always, God-willing, share truth, but I am learning to be extra diligent when it comes to making sure I examine the scriptures and am not relying on my own opinions or just regurgitating what I hear others teaching. I always want to bow down to the one and only throne of grace with a spirit that says, "Lord, what do you say?" I also, in the words of Pastor Dan, want to "speak truth to people, not aim it at them."

I love grace. I always want to remember how badly I need grace...it is a certain road to humility.

I want to love fully. I want to really love others, for who they are and where they are at. I also want to be loved where I'm at, imperfect and vulnerable.

It is a risk to love without condition and without getting in our own way.

It is a risk I want to take.

Want to jump with me into the wide open scary world of loving without walls?

"When it comes to relationship poker, a hand of mercy beats a hand of judgement -- everytime."
James 2:13


Muthering Heights and Other Senseless Sensibility said...

Yes, I do!

As usual, VERY well written!!

Sandy said...

Love this! I especially like: "You can love Jesus and still have voted for Obama." Thank you for saying so. I mean, duh, but thank you, because too many people think Christian = Republican.

Miss Jocelyn said...

Amen!!!! When we start making these kinds of judgments we are in BIG trouble. Let's focus on encouraging and edifying believers in faith, love, and purity.

Sarah said...

What a wonderful pledge. I know I have walls up around my love for others. I will be praying and pondering this.

Collette@Jesuslovesmums said...

excellent post Sarah! Christians can't just be put into little boxes, we are individuals as well. The Bible is our guide for life and should always be our point of reference when talking about how we should live our life. A great and honest post.
Love Collette xxx

Sarah said...

Ya! This is so key. Something I feel like God has been teaching me (and will probably have to conitinue forever). This is so important because when we do keep inside the "box" of what Christians are "supposed to" do, we miss the exact opportunity God had for us to love someone genuinely (selflessly) and share the best truth with them. I think we Christians need to hear this message over and over and over..... Thanks for reminding ME! Wow, God loves _______ as much as He loves me?! Duh.

Tiffany said...

I agree. There is only one Way - Jesus, but in living things out here in this life it can take on many different looks. I'm also glad you mentioned voting for Obama. This past election year was kind of hard because of people's expectations on voting. Conversation with family was sometimes interesting.

(I hope this comment makes sense. I'm nearly done with my coffee, but it hasn't made its way to my brain yet!)

Carrie said...

I'm with you, dear friend. Speaking the truth in love is what true Christianity is all about. It's about being gracious to others because we ourselves didn't qualify for the amazing grace we received. Oh to love as Christ loves!

oh amanda said...

You're so right. This is one of the things that has been opened to me as a blogger---I started reading blogs by Christians and was so impressed, encouraged, etc. Then a few posts later I'd find out that they __________ (drank whiskey, played cards or danced the hoochie koochie, fill in your own blank) and was shocked! It's been a real lesson to my judgmental eyes and heart! I love seeing the REAL body of Christ.

Latte With Me said...

Amen and Amen.

When you look at the people Jesus sought out and spoke with...it was the least of these. What makes me think I'm better than the "least of these" just because my life hasn't gone down the same path theirs have. I think as Christians we have become so legalistic in our ways and it probably started out innocently enough but I think we've gotten so far away from truly showing Christ like behaviors and attitudes.

Thank you for the beautiful reminder that I am the least of these too :).


TeriLynneU said...

Thank you for this well-written & timely reminder. I've been dealing with these same things lately ... and have been gently (and not-so-gently) reminded by the Holy Spirit that it is not agreeing with ME that is important, it is lining up with the Word of God. I have to confess that I am a huge Rob Bell fan - now. I first heard him speak about six years ago at the Youth Specialties convention and was absolutely offended by everything he said. Then, I read Velvet Elvis and subscribed to his podcast from Mars Hill ... I listened to the heart from which he spoke and realized I had judged him so quickly because of one line in what he said at that conference. Who did I think I was? I can only imagine the judgments people could make about me using one line of a blog post or of a lesson I teach at church. Suffice it to say, the Lord has been doing some deep work on my self-righteous heart.

Okay, that turned into a treatise, sorry! :-)

Lauren said...

this is so true -- we must always keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and what His word says... not our own legalistic idea of what Christianity should look like. Because we really have no idea...

Amber@theRunaMuck said...

Unity in the body is gorgeous and so freeing. It has taken us a while to catch on to this one, especially when we get caught up in our love for theology, rather than in our love for the Savior and for His body.

Robin ~ PENSIEVE said...

It's amazing to me how "Stepford" I had become years ago; I was a model Christian, almost playing a game...and then slowly, lovingly, God began to reveal this to me. I had no idea that I was professing things I didn't even believe.

Now, in my mid 40s, there's a clarity to my faith non-existent 10 years ago; I don't mean to say I know it all--I'm a great fan of "the more I know the more I realize I DON'T know"--I'm just aware how ugly my superiority was...and how flawed.

Grace can never be at the expense of Truth...and to flesh out what that means is no small task. Loving without condition, either. Gosh, it's SO NOT about feelin' it, it's about doing it! The difference is phenomenal!

For a thousand years I thought salvation was a means to an end; now I realize the process is beautiful. And what a delight to see others in the journey :).

Jackie said...

Thank you for this post!!

HeathahLee said...

"In all things, and in all our differences, we need to love one another and seek unity."

As I've gotten older, I have realized more and more that the things we Christians argue with each other about (predestination, tongues, etc, etc.) just don't mean squat compared to bringing people to Jesus. If we are going to make a difference in this world, we do have to be unified in the body of Christ.

Thanks for posting this, Sarah!

His Honeybee said...

This was so good and so true!
I started coming to the same conclusion at the close of last year. God is so much bigger than our ideas of it all. I try to remember that we can do all kinds of good and even godly things, but if we don't love, WE GOT NOTHIN'!
Like at the end of 1 Corinthians 13....we can give our bodies as a sacrifice, but if we haven't loved, it's worth nothing. We can speak the truth in love and glorify God w/ our love walk with others! I so love Him....and He's helping me love others, even those I thought I couldn't b/c of differences! :D

Lisa @ Stop and Smell the Chocolates said...

Nice post Sarah Mae and a good reminder - certainly something I struggle with regularly!

chandy said...

This is something I continually struggle with. I enjoy reading many of the popular theology blogs, and find them very informative and educational...but they do seem to encourage me to nit-pick and question others' beliefs...

simplebeauty said...

"In all things, and in all our differences, we need to love one another and seek unity."

I think this is a grand idea, however, I'm concerned that as Christians we so often candy coat actions and life styles. Are you saying that we need to be unified to stand strong as Christians? Is this unity in Biblical truth or in the political and social aspects of life?

I'm a new follower of your blog so please understand that I might not have understood what you have said. However, I am concerened that in our quest for the great "feel good" emotions that play on our thoughts these days our motives are wrong.

Is the unity you are speaking of that we will not instruct/edify others even in our family and churches so we won't hurt peoples feelings? So we don't maybe stand against their ideas in the political areas of life? Even if they support something that tears down God and his holy counsel?

Or is it more of a, "you wear skirts and I'm not going to hold that against you but I like to still wear jeans?"

Can you help clarify?

If it is about not hurting fellow believers feelings, or non believers feelings for that mater have you considered what Jesus said in Matthew?

34"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35For I have come to turn
" 'a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her motherinlaw—
36a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'[a]

37"Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

40"He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me."

So if you make political stand points and they fall into place against God, shouldn't that person be told that what they have stood for goes against God and his Holy world? Not even just policial stand points but basic stand points?

Simply confused about this post...

Simple Beauty

Wendy said...

The more we seek God's wisdom, not mans, the more we understand love in it's purest form. It's not about political parties, governments, or church doctrines, that's all man made. It's about seeking HIM above all, as we seek Him through His Word we will find Him. As we are filled with His Word we will speak His Word to others. Seek Him, learn His Word, speak His Word. It's all in the Book.

Isabel said...

Hi! It's been ages since I last left a comment! Sorry but we have/are having bouts of gastric flu and chicken pox!!

I totally agree with you when you say that we are all "works in progress" trying to figure things out, and we must seek unity but still I find this position you are describing it a little difficult to chew. Maybe it is because of my Catholic background that I find difficulty with the idea that truth must be gleaned from the Bible. No problem with that in itself, the problem I see is in the interpretation of the WOrd, which might be different for different people. Also I can't figure how anyone could vote for a person who promotes un-Christian values, in whatever part of the world!

As for the rest I really loved what you said.

Julie said...

I must respectfully disagree on your statement about Obama. I believe a follower of Jesus must vote against him simply because he is pro-abortion. We are told NOT to kill and Obama (and many others in power) is in support of mother's killing their un-born children.

Christian doesn't = Republican OR Democrat BUT it does mean a follower of Christ. For me, abortion or those in support of it does not = Christian nor does voting for anyone that is pro-abortion.

Sarah Mae said...

Hi Julie,

I think you may have misunderstood what I was saying. I agree with you that as Christians we must try diligently to follow the commands of Christ - this shows we love Him. However, what I was communicating was that it is possible to be a Christian and sin (perhaps not even realizing you are sinning).

Did you vote for McCain, by chance? Because he upholds abortion in cases of rape and incest.

We are all in different places on our growth/maturity time line, and so yes, we need to speak truth, but we also need to remember our own sin and the grace that covers.

Believe me, I am with you on the pro-life issue, but if someone isn't sure where they stand on the issue, that doesn't mean they don't love Jesus - perhaps they just haven't "gotten there" yet.

Make sense? :)

Debbie said...

As always - a thought (and comment) provoking post! This really (for me) falls into the categories of legalism or graced based faith.

Christians absolutely sin - wasn't it Paul who claimed to be "chief" among sinners? And we fall down. And we made bad decisions. And we live in sinful habits.

And then we point at others for their (maybe more obvious) sins or bad decisions or sinful habits. It is the whole "take the beam out of your eye" before pointing at the speck in someone else's eye. DUH!

This is where Christian faith meets the road of life. When we stand face to face at each other wagging fingers about long hair or music or who you voted for - the world won't pay attention to THE MESSAGE of Christ - it gets lost. All they see is bickering & dissension - and how does THAT compare to the rest of the world? And why should they think it's better?

Good points here - GREAT post - and as always, thank you for putting it all out there.

Reborn said...

Wow, I think this is my favorite post of yours so far! Awesome!!

Reborn said...

I wanted to leave one more comment concerning the morality of voting for Obama/other pro-choice politicians.

I'm absolutely pro-life. I didn't vote for Obama. HOWEVER, I think we miss the mark sometimes when we raise certain "hot button" political issues like abortion and homosexuality above other sins.

We viciously condemn the abortionist, the LAMBDA advocate, and the prostitute, then sit back and glory in our moral purity while wallowing in pride, greed, gossip, bitterness, jealousy, gluttony, and envy.

I would prefer to not have politicians in office who support abortion, or any kind of murder. However, there are a lot of other sins conservative politicians promote and participate in that aren't as "in your face". But sins nonetheless...

If you resolve not to vote for ANY politician who supports ANY non-christian values (both publicly and privately-- in his/her real life actions), you likely will be left with NO ONE to vote for!