For almost two months now I’ve really been thinking a great deal about being prejudice and intolerant, specifically towards those who aren’t Christians and don’t believe in worshiping Jesus the way I do. I’ve had bouts of negative thoughts towards others and their choices. Subsequently, I started to think I was turning into one of “THOSE Christians!” Ya know the ones who give us a bad name because they are so pushy with their religion and don’t share the truth with love. I know there are people out there who are very unloving because they believe their Christian believes are the only way! Okay, there I go again,,, being judgmental of my “own kind” now!!
This all started when I tried to talk my very good friend, Tom into coming to the Harvest Crusade. Of course he told me no way but then we sprung into this weird, two hour, heated discussion about God, Jesus, religion, Heaven and you name it! What was so ironic, is here I was trying to TEACH him about Jesus’ love and how easy it is to accept Christ and get that ticket to heaven. Meanwhile, he was certain he was going to teach me a grand lesson in not being judgmental towards people of other religions. Okay, so here’s where I quote the bible, John 3:16 “For God so loved the world he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him, shall not parish but have eternal live.” I thought that was about as clear as I could make it but no such luck.
Tom and I continued to go rounds and rounds. I said the Buddhist and atheists and even the Jews do not believe in Jesus. So, with the bible as my backup, I am not judging them, I am simply saying, the bible says they will not go to heaven. BUT, how does one help non-believers believe you, as a mere mortal human, are not judging anyone. God has already done that!? Finally, Tom and I agreed to disagree and love each other despite our differences. Nevertheless, I can’t help but feel this caused a little rift in our friendship!
This next scenario has it’s own uniqueness that has been challenging me to get this conditional love and judging thing figured out once and for all! In brief, about five years ago my dad made some choices that have caused turmoil in our family, by having an intimate relationship with his brother’s wife. (An added note: I do not allow the boys to be with my dad when he is with my ex-aunt.) My dad is not a Christian and does not believe he needs to have a relationship with God or Jesus. He believes when he dies he just goes to sleep forever. As a result, the impact of his choices really means nothing to him. Although, the bible tells us God has created each of us to hold guilt in our hearts when we are doing wrong. This is so sad for me to know that he must feel guilt and shame because he isn’t ready to ask God for forgiveness. Someone once asked me, “Well, what would you do if they accepted Christ, would you forgive them and spend time with them?” Good question; I think I better answer that later!
So, thinking about my friend Tom and my own dad I started to pray to God to ask for help in figuring this out. I wanted to know if I should be convicted of loving non-Christians conditionally. As I went on about my daily life, God started to speak to me through several different avenues. At first it was subtle, like a guy on the radio talking about this subject. Next, it was Wally, my favorite Christian DJ, “went off” on the topic of Christians not loving others because they are different. Then I started hearing it clearer. One night, as I was halfheartedly trying to finish reading my book, Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller, I had a mini epiphany. Miller explained how Christian’s love is conditional. He goes on to say there are too many generalizations and Christians think they are always RIGHT and look down on everyone else. For example, Miller lived with a group of un-churched hippies in the woods for two months. What perfect little Christian do you know who would go live with these, dirty, sinful, heathen hippies? I don’t know anyone who would do this, except for maybe Pastor Bill, but then he probably wouldn’t have a job when he came home! Anyway, what came out of Miller’s stay with the hippy group is a unique outlook on life where Miller felt like he wanted to LOVE EVERYONE… the atheist, the homosexuals, the democrats and even the liberal hippies! This sounds like tolerance you say? Yes, and what church group would have tolerance for these types of people? I honestly, thought I had tolerance for all types of people, meaning I “could tolerate them” at least for a little bit. Here’s what’s sad, what I am truly saying is, I don’t think I could do like Miller and live with them for two months!
Next, Donald goes on to say, as much as he wanted to love and tolerate non-Christians he felt like he was so much accepting of their choices that he was betraying God. Subsequently, how can we support that person who says they are on the sin wagon and proud of it, without throwing out the truth of Scripture and our faithfulness to God? I think this is where many people, my husband included, will do whatever it takes to turn a blind eye and forget God’s commandment to share our faith! I do not want to love conditionally but I know subconsciously I do!
Ya know, when I was a baby Christian I knew I needed and wanted to find more Christian friends and hang around them. I needed their goodness and knowledge of God to rub off on me! I didn’t need any “bad influences” at that time in my life! So, my motto was, “Out with the old and in with the new!” However, as my faith in Christ has matured I am ready to spread my wings and spend time with non-believers. (It wouldn’t be my will but if it were God’s will that I must go spend two months with hippies in the woods, I’d have to do it!)
Now, here’s my last catch. Last week as I was sitting amongst my students watching the Israeli band sing their traditional songs I thought to myself, ‘Ah, I need to love these people! And I should NOT judge them’
and then I thought, “Ah, I have to accept they don’t know Jesus, as they stated they were Jewish, and I still love them anyway.’
And then I thought, ‘Well, yes, I will love them BUT, if they just knew Jesus, their life would be so much better!!!’
HUM, as I ponder what I just wrote, I think of what I heard Jeremy Camp, a great Christian singer say during a radio interview, only a week ago. Camp said, “You Christians must LOVE WITH TRUTH!” In a round about way, this is how Donald Miller ended his chapter about love. They both said if you love without the truth (meaning the truth of God’s word) you are just a wishy-washy Christian. And if you share the Truth without love, NO ONE will listen to you! TRUTH and LOVE go hand in hand!
I will continue to LOVE my dad, Tom and others who are blatantly denying Jesus and I will continue to share the Truth in a loving way.
I will also remember it is God’s job to bring the people to Him and I am only a vessel to be used by Him.