This isn’t a long post, but it does include a link to music… so, there’s that!
Despite the love we’ve been shown, been given, as God’s adopted ones, we sometimes do not show the same love to others… is it because others are insincere, a blown up misunderstanding, they’re annoying to the upmost degree, they’ve committed a sin so despicable, so terrible that you want them dead (or at least “not near [your] church or family” – don’t forget the attitude while saying it), or maybe they’ve hurt you or your family with their upturned noses, gossiping lips, shunning you or other unexpected behavior from them (their reasoning: who they claim to be, which is also the reason it is so unexpected, so surprising and alarming – or at least it should be)? We can probably all think of someone who falls into these categories, and we all fall into one or more of categories from time to time, maybe even without realizing it. In some of my recent years I’ve see others show anger and hate to brothers and sisters in Christ. I’ve seen lies, exaggerations, shunning, torn marriages and more. These are people I know, have worshiped with! I’ve read posts from strangers about public execution of men who have done some very terrible things. I pray that, well, that those terrible things never happen to any of the beloved children in my life, but if those terrible things did happen, I pray that I’d be able to show the unexplainable, undeserving love that Christ makes possible, that same undeserving love we have been shown. I pray that I can keep that sin of unforgiveness out of my life. I want to forgive others when they’ve hurt my feelings, my body, my family, or my church family. I love filling my mind with songs that help, rather than hinder, my faith and spiritual growth, inspiring me to worship with abandon or challenge my opinions, actions and heart. I have more of a contemporary praise and worship style taste myself, but can appreciate other styles. This song is an example of such:
10/22/13 – now that I’m adding, it may not be so short, but there are still links to music…
After stepping back from writing this post (and hearing a song I’ve not heard in a while), I feel the need to add a bit to this… You might say this post has been about forgiveness or you might even say love, but the truth is that they go hand in hand… this is my understanding anyway. God has shown us how to forgive like no other way we could ever see. And it is because of His love for us that He has done this. He taught us to love. Without Him it’s nothing. Without Him there’s no true love or true forgiveness.
Just a while ago I heard the song, “What Love Really Means“, by JJ Heller. We want someone who loves us first, not because of something we’ve done that they like, or because of something we’re going to do in the future to gain their love, someone who loves us. We find that in God, and He broke down the barrier of our sin through Christ. But in this song I also am reminded of the people in the verses. The young boy at the beginning (Have you ever been a teacher/caregiver/serve in preschool and had a super clinging, needy, trouble-stirring child in your class? Often there’s a reason they’re reaching out for that attention. Would we have more patience, and show love more clearly, if we remembered this in those challenging moments?), the woman with a broken marriage (oh how we play judge and jury as to the cause of broken marriages), the man sitting in a cell alone (I have seen with my own eyes, a believer repent and not be accepted at church by “believers”, go to prison and have no letters, much less visits or calls from his pastor)… At this song’s height, when it was often played on the local radio, I could hardly handle this song (Okay, if I’m being honest, I usually did not keep my composure, but in my defense I was expecting a baby!). I know someone in prison. He is loved by his family and some friends who have stuck by, and some new friendships that have grown. He is a brother in Christ. He is not a murderer, and will be out one day. In fact, if given the right connections or the right county, I think he wouldn’t have served time. Regardless, it still broke my heart to think of all he’s been going through. I wanted to scream this message from the top of my lungs so that every person claiming to be a follower of Christ would hear:
“I know that you’ve murdered and I know that you’ve lied
And I have watched you suffer all of your life
And now that you’ll listen I’ll, I’ll tell you that I…”
“I will love you for you
Not for what you have done
Or what you will become
I will love you for you”
(lyrics from “What Love Really Means” by JJ Heller)
Now I think that His love says more about Him than us, but I love the song, nonetheless. We are His and He loves us. The situation with the loved one in prison has taught me, I believe, to not just give people the benefit of the doubt, or give them a closer look, but to love regardless, forgive regardless, and not to be their judge regardless (instead a light of hope – God’s love in person shown). Now I am not saying that I never do any of those things, but God has used this to begin a change in me. Slowly I am seeing these sin tendencies in myself and can actively repent and run from Satan’s lures. I never want someone to see my actions and call me a believer in quotations. I love the Lord and want that to show Him only to show through me. I am convicted as I type this post using believer above in quotations, because we aren’t perfect because we are Christians, not me, not anyone. The same who come to mind as “believers” are guilty of what, hurting others with their sin of haughty judgmental unforgiveness. I am a sinner too. Slowly but surely the Holy Spirit is revealing them to me, giving me the opportunity to repent and let Him clean them out of me, filling me with more of Him. We are forgiven and the Holy Spirit is within us changing us to be more like Christ, as we submit and die to our own old selfish self.
I thank God for His love, forgiveness, revelations of sin in my life, and the opportunity to repent and see Him change me as I allow Him to fill me up with Him instead.
Enjoy the music! And as always, comment, share, discuss with me these thoughts…