Friday, July 31, 2009

A mentor of mine shared with me a sign she saw at a church the other day-

God does not call us to be judges or lawyers, but witnesses

How true it is. Sometimes as Christians it’s easy to get caught up in how others actions don’t reflect God’s commandments for us. We say “Hate the sin, not the sinner” or “Love the sinner, but not the sin” but honestly, do we mean that? No, we pass our judgement just the same. We judge people based on their actions, period. That’s right, we judge them and their actions. Yet we are not called to be judges, just witnesses.

At the same time, we all find ourselves taking part in things we shouldn’t. It’s easy to do. Too easy. I know this summer I found myself slipping from my faith. I would go out with friends on Saturday night, sleep in on Sunday, and before I realized it, another Sunday had gone without going to church. That’s ok I would tell myself, I’ll read a few more verses in the Bible. I was defending my actions. God doesn’t call us to be a lawyer either- he calls us to be a witness.

If we are not called to judge and condemn, or to defend and justify- what is it then we called to do? We are called to witness. Witnessing can look different to many different people. To one of the ladies I work with this summer, it is taking time before every meal to say a short silent prayer. Without uttering a word, she is witnessing, showing her love and reverence for God through a small action. To a good friend of mine, its through simple acts of kindness, like giving her leftover food to someone with none. To one of my professors, its signing up to be a bone marrow donor- and then praying to be called upon. Whatever way you choose, we are all called to witness, the question is, how will you answer that call.

1 John 3:18
"Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."

Let us show our love for God and others, not through meaningless words, but through our actions. This summer a number of my friends facilitates a service based conference here in Washington, DC. One of the trademark lines of the conference is, “We must, because we can”. Think of showing God’s love in that context. We must show it, because we can. If you really think about it we are truly blessed, and it is our duty to witness to people through our actions. We must, because we can.

As I sum up, I think back over the last few weeks since my last posting. In the beginning of the summer, I was struggling with some of my relationships, both with people and with God. But as I find myself being called more and more to witness to others, I find myself growing stronger in my faith, and stronger in my relationships with other people. Recently I have struggled with the decisions of a very close friend. But as I think back over the saying “God does not call us to be judges or lawyers, but witnesses” I realize the best thing I can do my friend is simply to love them for who they are. I must witness to them not through my words, but through actions that show understanding and compassion. I must be a witness to them, because I can.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."Proverbs 3:5-6

I must trust in the Lord, and know that his will, will be done. And I must answer the call to be a witness, not through words, but with actions, and in truth.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look on his appearance ... for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart."
-1 Samuel 16:7 (NRSV)

Vanity. We all experience it. We all hate it. We all have it. From the time we were young, most of us have been told not to judge a book by its cover. Yet, around every corner is a reminder that to most of us, beauty is skin deep. It’s on billboards with scantily clad models. It’s on the front of magazines. I even had a friend who refuses to go to the gym without having either his hair fixed or a hat on- he’s afraid of what people would think to see him as he is.

I am as guilty as anyone. When I first meet someone, most of the times I judge them based on their appearance. Eventually, I look into their heart, but unmistakably, my impression is formed based on their appearances. I find many people to be beautiful outwardly, with enormous pain on the inside. Others who may be no beauty to look at, have hearts yearning to care.

I’ll admit, I don’t go to the gym 4 or 5 days a week because I like to work out. I don’t run because I find it relaxing. No, I hate it. I don’t eat healthy because I like salad and grilled foods. Give me bacon and butter any day of the week. I do all of these things to be healthy yes, but primarily, to look good in a t-shirt. Yes, I let vanity consume a few hours of every day.

But what if, we focused just a fraction of our time being vain on getting to know someone’s heart? I can recall meeting a good friend of mine a while back, and my first impression was that he was a fratty jock who cared about nothing more than partying and meeting women. But as I got to know him, I realize he cares more about helping people achieve their goals, and ultimately wants to teach, so that he can better influence future generations. Had I allowed my first impression to shape how I saw him, I would have missed out on a great friendship.

Starting today, ignore outwards appearances. Seek to understand others for who they are, not what they look like. Seek to know their hearts, and you will know true beauty.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”- Romans 12:3

Growing up in the south, I knew my fair share of holier than thou Christians.  I can actually remember a time when a youth pastor from another church questioned my own sincerity in terms of salvation.  Talk about a turn off.

It can be easy to get arrogant in our faith.  Some feel because they can quote scripture at will that makes them a better Christian.  And at times, I'll admit that because I don't read the Bible as often as I should, I wonder about my own standing with God.

The truth is though, we are lucky, very lucky.  Because we have an all loving God who loves us, even when at times we don't love him.  It is my hope that a strengthened relationship with Christ will not bring arrogance, but instead understanding.