If we are Christians, aren’t we obliged to follow Christ?
I think American Christians have become indurated to violence, to irrational killing, to injustice, to a lack of integrity, to a concrete refusal of mercy. We have become Americans first and Christians second, third or fourth after our loyalty to a political party, ideology, sports team or celebrity.
When did we elevate idol-worship over worshiping our Lord?
These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God. (Matthew 15:8-9)
What if we put God first? What if we listened to the voice of Jesus? What if we did as He asked? What if we truly love the Lord our God “with all our heart, all our soul and with all mind?” (Matthew 22:37)
What if we truly loved our neighbor? Remember in response to the question, “Who is our neighbor?” Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan. To extrapolate, that means our neighbors are those we least likely think of as our neighbors. Are we up to the task of going out of our way to treat them with dignity, compassion, love and grace?
What if we truly loved each other? What if we extended ourselves unselfishly to our brothers and sisters in Christ even when they disagree with us? Even when they believe in a different form of faith? Even when they place confidence in a different interpretation of the Bible? Even when they carry forward the heart of Jesus you may not recognize or appreciate? Could we pray for understanding and still pray for the Spirit to create a bond of unity between us?
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in Me through their message. Father, may they all be one as You are in Me and I am in You; may they be in Us, for by this unity the world will believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:20-21)
What if we truly loved our enemies? Are we willing to listen to Jesus on this point? Rather than belittle, denigrate or condemn, could we pray for them? Could we humble ourselves and walk a mile in their shoes? Could we seek to understand? Could we actually get to the point where we allow the Spirit to work in us so we can open our hearts and minds and be compassionate? To treat them as we would want – expect – to be treated? (Luke 6:27-31,36)
What if we truly showed the world the heart of Jesus through our love for one another? What if we thought before we spoke or acted? What if we truly believed our Father was watching? What if we truly had no doubt Jesus walks with us every waking moment? What if we knew with absolute certainty His hand reached out to us even now? (John 13:34-35)
What if we truly strive to become more like Jesus? It would mean putting God first in all things: in our relationships, in our home life, in our work, in our daily life, wherever we are, in whatever circumstance we are in. It would mean rethinking offense, anger, argument, fear and forgiveness. It would mean being quick to offer grace, mercy, and compassion. It would mean finally allowing the Holy Spirit to transform our heart and mind.
Brothers and sisters, in light of all I have shared with you about God’s mercies, I urge you to offer your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God, a sacred offering that brings Him pleasure; this is your reasonable, essential worship. Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, let the Spirit transform you from the inside out by renewing your mind and changing the way you think. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete. (Romans 12:1-2)