After some feedback I felt the need to include this because my message wasn’t coming across the way I intended.
Disclaimer- this is not me saying to throw scripture out the window, that we are free to do whatever we want without consequence , that we have a free card to live however we please when we are aware of God and what Scripture lays before us and that our God is just this gentle, jolly man in heaven that will never bring down judgment and gives free pass to all into Heaven…no the way we live down here does matter. What I am saying is before we try to align our lives with scripture we first need to seek to know God, have a relationship with Him and navigate life from there. I am saying yes we are to call those in our lives who claim to follow God to align their lives with Scripture, but we are not the ones to place judgment on them. The end goal is not to perfect the law without Jesus in the picture, but to know Jesus and ask Him to help us navigate how to live our lives. To realize that without Jesus no matter how perfect we sought to be we’d be hopeless. I just think we have taken “law” too far and are placing it as our God…if you perfect it you are a golden child. I have seen too many people, myself included, chase this exhausting, impossible goal of endless striving to be perfect and hoping that once that happens we will win the approval of God. But the bible is a message that we are sinful, fallen, despicable creatures who without God, without Jesus without a relationship with our Creator…we are hopeless. So seek God and let the fruits of His spirit flow out of that..not the other way around. Scripture is good, worth knowing and abiding by…but not in place of God, they are a unit. We use Scripture to know God, but we cannot seek to align with it until we form a relationship with Him. Because we need to know that when we fall short His grace is there.
God is a judge, He is jealous for us, He is wrathful, He does want us to abide by Him. But mostly, He wants our hearts. That is what I am trying to communicate.
I had a conversation with a dear friend recently that really got me thinking about not only how I live out my relationship with God but also how I view it, and others. The convo was on the pretense of this friend supposedly doing something that we Christian’s categorize as sin, therefore wrong, bad and deserving of feelings of guilt, shame and regret. However, she did not feel this way and was sick of Christians wanting or expecting her to feel this way. For judging her…calling her out..and placing guilt on her. She was done with people judging her faith life and her relationship with God based on these pretenses.
Fast forward a few days and I pass a guy in the city wearing a shirt that says religion is dead Jesus is not.
Fast forward to later that evening and I am having a conversation with another dear friend who happens to bring up this exact subject and what it had been stirring in my mind since then. The subject of residing in God but it not being about a list of do’s and don’ts, wrongs and rights.
But how is this possible?…this is what we Christians base our whole faith on…do’s and don’t’s. How can we have a relationship with Christ without religion? I wrestled with this quietly..not even realizing my faith life was subliminally based on these pretenses.
These two matters have always seemed to go hand in hand. You believe in Christ, well then you follow these rules. But what if it isn’t about rules, what if it is about love, about protection, about a Father who so adores and loves us that He has laid out guidelines for us to protect us… to lead us closer to Him.
As believers we need to stop cascading this blame, this judgment and placing on others that they deserve to feel guilt and shame.
Perhaps I meet someone who isn’t living their life in a way I see congruent with the bible, this in no way gives me any clarity on their faith or relationship with The Lord. It also gives me no footing to judge them.
Who am I to get upset with someone, or disappointed in them when I doubt that their creator, our God, feels that way at all. I am in no position to judge someone, not just because of the fact that I am no better but also because I just flat out don’t know and am not able to. I am unable to judge someone and I am unable to know God’s view of the situation. But I do know that He so crazily loves that person. Though I cannot know God’s stance I can confidently say that I highly doubt God looks from heaven with judgment in his eyes, or condemnation…rather I believe his heart breaks out of love and jealousy for His children when He doesn’t see them following His guidelines, the roadmap of His heart, because He formed them to protect us and to help us know Him better. He does not wish for HIS children to feel shame or guilt…but His love.
Someone who is not living their life in congruence with these guidelines makes them no less of a person, no less loved and no more deserving of our judgment. Because that is what they are…guidelines. The act of following them does not make someone more moral, higher-than-thou, holier, or saint-like. I believe God gave us the bible, which formed religion, to guide us not to condemn us. But that is what we are doing, we are using it to condemn, judge and shame our brothers and sisters.
There is a difference in calling someone out in tough love and calling someone out because we think they are a bad person.
I should be sharing the desire’s of God for us out of love with a desire for them to get it, to get the love He has for them, how much He cares and how His Father heart is jealous for them and a fierce protector, but that He will give us over to our ways if we so desire them. I should be yearning for them to know the desires of His heart so that their heart may come to align with those desires…but never, never judge them if they don’t.
We need to stop the shaming and judging. It is simply just not our place. We are to love and show the love of God to others. Why when God’s heart breaks am I getting on my high horse and starring down my nose at someone, or getting angry at them. I highly doubt God is doing that and He is the Holiest of Holies. Rather, his heart breaks because He see’s His children choosing this world over Him time and time again when this only brings us hurt, pain, loss, brokenness and all that He wants to help us avoid.
It is time to stop seeing it as wrongs and rights, good and bad. because it is not black and white like this. and it is not our duty to say someone is wrong, right, good or bad.
Have you ever thought that maybe the Lord doesn’t get angry at our disobedience but rather heart broken- because he knows our needs, what is best for us and desires to provide/fulfill in those areas… but our disobedience pulls us away from Him when He is all that can truly satisfy? Do you ever think that maybe it isn’t out of duty that He wants our undivided hearts, but out of love. He isn’t a tyrant demanding our obedience- but a God that loves us so and wants us to be fully satisfied in the only way we can be…in the only true and good way. Through relational obedience our hearts are molded to the law, and the law is there to protect us and for our benefit- out of Love from the all loving and grace abounding God.
We can’t have religion without God, they go together. We have just utilized religion in the wrong way. When we put religion before and above God, making it more powerful than Him, we have got it wrong. It is suppose to flow out of a relationship with Him. We desire to live a life aligned with these guidelines, with the desires of His heart for us, as we come to see the heart He has for us.
Im starting to not see it as law and disobedience vs. obedience…but my Father’s heart yearning to protect me, ravishing my short comings in Grace and loving me fiercely none-the-less. And sin not as ‘don’t do it or else your practically the worst believer ever’ or as disobedience of the law, but rather as straying from the heart of God.
We will not obey Him if we do not first love Him by knowing His love for us. Once we know Him and of His love for us, it is not that we obey but begin to understand as our hearts desires are aligned with His.
The fact is we are all hopeless sinners. its apart of being human. This isn’t me just saying, heck just do what ever you darn well please, far from it. But saying we need to get off our high horse and realize we are all on the same level and in NO place to judge others. Call your Christian brothers and sisters out to help guide them to the Heart of God, but only out of love and genuine care for them, not to guilt, shame or condemn them. and not out of judgement…never out of judgement.
We need to stop seeing this law as a holiness ranker or a means to judge others by, and even stop holding ourselves to it. We need to stop letting this be the basis of our faith, our relationship with others, how we look at others and a reason to judge each other. but rather as something provided to draw us closer into our fathers protection and love. We should invite others into this but not hold them to it and see them as “good” Christians only if their lives imitate it.
Even in the bible there are examples time and time again of those who uphold the law but their hearts are cold, distant and far from the Lord. And in Matthew 7:22-23 it even highlights “believers” coming into heaven boldly and in pride proclaiming they obeyed the law through and through…however you find that Jesus commands them to get away from Him because He did not know them. We are in no place to see the standing of one’s heart, and that is what matters to Jesus.
We, as believers, are all fully human striving to be spiritual. However, we are incapable of doing so, we cannot without Him. This means we and all others will fall short, stumble and stray as we journey through decisions. We will be mesmerized and allured by this world. So have grace with one another.
We stand up in churches, at camps, in youth group, to dedicate our lives. We find ourselves again at these places rededicating them. And too often I have found myself and others leaving these moments with the wrong mentality. We enter into these moments and leave them because we feeling overrun with guilt and shame; as though I am/you are a horrible, wretched person. We stand to commit or rededicate in hopes of being a better person, of fixing ourselves…dedicating to living a life aligned to the law. A preacher speaks, something hits home, a stirring within us occurs, we come to this realization we are hopeless and horrible, we stand up and vow to be better. However, I do not think this would be God’s heart behind this. Rather I think He desires we do this to realize our utter inability, our desperate need for grace, forgiveness and our severe reliance on the Lord. We do it because we are humbled and astonished by the Father’s love for us. not to better ourselves and boast in living a life of perfect law abiding.
Christianity and Scripture aren’t about feeling guilty, but humbled and discovering the love of our God as well as our endless need for it.
So pull other’s towards Him. Live a life that you seek to be aligned with Him, but don’t do it just to be a shinning example, to boast your “faith” above others or to judge them. Have conversations in love if you feel as though a close friend is wandering from God. Do so to understand them, to walk with them, to love them and love them well but most importantly to hand them over to God. Remember you are not the savior in this situation…you are not the redeemer nor are you the spotless one who can cast judgement. you are just there to walk through this with them in love.
Disentangle yourself from this law mentaility to stop it from being your god and what you judge others with. Find that is is coming into the heart of our God, discovering His heart and then letting how you live your life flow out of that. I find that the more I know my Father’s heart the more I desire to live my life in congruence to what He calls me to because I see how His way’s are so much greater. For too long I lived in obedience to the law to perfect myself, correct others, and be that holy, perfect, spotless and blameless Christian. But that is not what it is about, and trust me it gets you no where. Seek to know your Father, not to be in perfect obedience to law and avoid sin.
So please, let us get past living solely in obedience to the law, with our eyes set on that. Past making that what Christianity and having faith is about. Let us let go of judgement of ourselves and others. Let us walk into knowing the Heart of the Lord and not aggressively pulling other’s with us but gently, lovingly and patiently walking with them there as well.
We have already been saved. Now we just need to know our Father’s heart, Jesus died to open up that gateway of relationship. Let us utilize it.