Last week I watched the TV series Gogglebox. On it they played an episode of Bride and Prejudice which showed Chris extending a wedding invitation to his conservative parents.
Bride and Prejudice saw Grant’s fiancé, Chris, ask his parents if they would come to his wedding.
Before we had even heard the parents response, I looked at the mothers face and turned to my husband and said. “I bet she’s a Christian”. Then this happened.
Instead of accepting, Chris’ mother Yvonne and army father Jeff rejected the invitation to even meet their son’s fiance due to their personal and religious beliefs.
(I found out later that she was a Jehovahs witness).
Why did I think she was a Christian before she even spoke? It was the self righteous look of rejection and judgement that was painted on her face. A face that is all too familiar in Christian circles. Please dont misquote me. I do not know this woman or her circumstances. I am sure that she is in a lot of pain and confusion right now. I cannot imagine a situation where a mother would reject her son like that. I am using this as an example of what is far to familiar.
I know that many of you hold differing beliefs and thoughts on this subject and this post is not a discussion on gay marriage, or homosexuality.
What I cannot get away from are the words of Jesus:
They will know that you are Christ followers by your love
YET…..Far too often we are known by our self righteousness, our prejudice, our rejection and our judgemental attitude. Some would even say our hate.
Earlier last week a friend of mine Deb Hirsch posted this excerpt from her book.
A question we must ask is:
What was it about the holiness of Jesus that drew people to him like a magnet? Sinners of all sorts were drawn into his orbit: the bungled, the broken and the bent, tax collectors, harlots—all sorts of social outcasts—all wanting closeness. His holiness was certainly alluring and enticing.
Following this, a more disturbing question needs to be asked:
What is it about more churchy forms of holiness that seem to evoke the opposite response?
Sinners seem to be repelled by Christians! They certainly are not rushing forward to hang out with us. I want to suggest that perhaps this is not holiness at all but a counterfeit form of moralism (Deb Hirsch).
This has stayed with me all week. If the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead lives within us and if we are followers of the teachings of Jesus, then why aren’t people drawn to us like a magnet. People felt no shame around Him, they just wanted to be as near to him as they could get. He certainly did not reject them or despise them.
Why are Christians so repellant?
We really need to ask ourselves this question.
When did we become so in love with the rules of the church that we forgot to mirror the very one that we are following.
After meditating on these thoughts for a week I realised two things.
1: I have fallen OUT of love with ‘the church’ in the very broad sense and
2: More completely in love with Jesus and what He taught.
It seems to me that in many ways ‘some parts’ of the Church has moved a long way away from the beatitudes and the mesmerising grace and love of Jesus and has become more in love with keeping rules and peddling fear than with loving people.
I shall pour clean water over you and you will be cleansed… I shall give you a new heart, and put a new spirit in you; I shall remove the heart of stone from your bodies and give you a heart of flesh instead.” (Ez 36, 26).
Where is this heart of flesh? Too often we show each other and those who are different from us, hearts of stone when our hearts should be alive, soft, pliable and in love.
Jesus didn’t teach about homosexuality, he didn’t teach about most of the topics that tear the church apart today like equality, woman in ministry, end times dispensations, muslims and refugees. He didn’t need to. His greatest teaching covered all of those subjects and more but you dont often hear about it or see it demonstrated.
It was his sermon on the mount.
- “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit; the kingdom of heaven is theirs.”
That is the first and most fundamental condition for belonging to Christ is to be aware of our utter need for God and have humility toward him.
- “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
If we love God, we will love all those who belong to God, and every human being without exception comes from God and is loved by God with an incomprehensible love. The more we understand the heart of God the more we find our neighbour there. The more we can relate to their pain and in doing so offer comfort and consolation.
- “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
A meek spirit is a gentle spirit. The poor in spirit who mourn the misery of others because they know all about misery and are moved to share in it. They are gentle towards those who are suffering. The meek are not quick to take offense at others; they are very patient with others because they know that God has always been patient with them. (source)
4. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for what is right; they shall be satisfied.”
What Jesus is referring to is the hunger pangs of a first century Palestinian laborer who knew what it was like to go without food for an extended period of time, and the thirst is that of a Palestinian who has experienced the heat of the desert and the thirst it induces. There is a tremendous amount of indifference in this world, and the reason is that indifference is rather painless. The indifferent do not suffer over the wounds of others. Those who have entered into Christ will suffer a great deal of hunger and thirst, because there is so much injustice around us. (source)
5. “Blessed are the merciful; they will be shown mercy.”
Christ revealed God as absolute mercy. He came to die for us and cancel the debt of sin, which we were unable to pay. The Latin word for mercy is misericordia (miser, cor, dia). The word means “the heart (cor) of God (deus) touching our misery (miser). God enters into our misery by becoming man in the Person of Christ. He does so to inject the comfort of his presence into the depths of our darkness so that when life becomes dark for us, we do not have to suffer alone. When we have been touched by his mercy, we too become merciful; to follow him is to become a channel of his mercy (source).
6. “Blessed are the pure in heart; they shall see God.”
Being pure in heart involves having a singleness of heart toward God. A pure heart has no hypocrisy, no guile, no hidden motives. The pure heart is marked by transparency and an uncompromising desire to please God in all things. It is more than an external purity of behavior; it is an internal purity of soul. (Source)
7. “Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall be called the children of God.”
The Latin word for peace is ‘pax’, which means unity. Love unites, hate divides, separates, cuts off, rejects. A peacemaker is one who strives to bring together, to maintain a genuine harmony among people (source) .
8. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of what is right, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Jesus blesses those who suffer by belonging to Him. We identify with Jesus and with each other in our suffering. We do not put ourselves above any one else, we are equal with or come along side ‘with’ those who suffer because we know what it is like. We know what it is like to be persecuted. The meaning of persecution is to suffer for your racial, religious or political beliefs. No one should oppress, abuse or victimise another human being.
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