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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Being Jesus

Hi Friends.

Election season is about to be upon us, and each day our Facebook walls and Twitter feeds are flooded with various political ads trashing one candidate or another. We see memes spewing hatred for people on government assistance, undocumented people living in our country, and gay people. None of these are remotely nice, not one is constructive, and many of them are shared by my Christian friends.

A few years ago, and again very recently, I was pointed to Jesus. Not just to the fact that He loves me, but that He also commanded me to love others (Matthew 22:39-40)—without some sort of weird conditions as a prerequisite for my approval. He commanded us to love. Not to spew hate (or even mild disgust) via social media, or from our mouths. If we’re truly going to do what Jesus commands, we need to stop spreading destructive and divisive junk, and start thinking about how we can build others up, love them, and hopefully lead them to Jesus. At the very least, point them in His direction.

What we don’t realize is when we say something hurtful or negative about a group of people, we’re affecting the way others look at Jesus. When we post a Bible verse, or claim the name of Jesus, then follow it up with something hateful, we’re negating the good things we say. And y’all, we need those good things to stand.

Last month, I wrote a piece called Represent. I feel extremely called to be a representative of Christ while I’m here on earth. I take Jesus’ life and death very seriously, and am doing my best to reflect His love to others. You know, “this little light of mine,” and all. It’s important to me that others see Jesus as kind and loving. If I, as His representative, am neither, how am I sending folks His way? I’m not. You guys, hell is a real place, and people will go there unless we, as Christ’s representatives, lovingly introduce Him to them.

So, how do we fix this? How do we make amends, dust ourselves off, and start looking like Jesus?

 First, we pray. Pray that our hearts are changed, and that we are good representatives of Christ.

Second, we read the Bible. Read the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), read Jesus’ actual words (the red ones!), read what He did. KNOW FOR YOURSELF instead of letting other people tell you. It’s really cool when you do this. Trust me.

Then, you guys, we ACT.  We take what we know about Jesus and His commands, and we DO IT.

I think a good place to start is to begin speaking, posting (singing, whatever), and writing about who you’re for, not what you’re against. When did we ever win people over by shaming them? When was an atheist ever brought to Christ through defamation? When did posting a hateful meme about gay people ever turn a dude straight?  I’m willing to bet my good earrings on never.  What if Jesus was right? What if they’ll know us by our love? (John 13:35)

When He said help “the least of these,”(Matthew 25:40) I’m pretty sure He meant for us to do it. Feed people, clothe people, give them shoes, build relationships. Do SOMETHING. Don’t wait for someone else to do it. We’re all waiting for somebody to go first. Let it be you! I can’t even begin to express how blessed you’ll be when you begin to serve Him in this way.
Here’s a list of ways you can help financially or materially: (There are lots of these. I just picked some of my faves.)   Use your old jeans to make shoes for people in Uganda, as well as generate income for Sole Hope’s Ugandan employees. Sponsor a child’s needs: education, medication, housing. I’m reading Katie Davis’s book right now, and this ministry and its story are awesome.  This organization provides food for children worldwide. You can choose domestic or international sponsorship.

In-person ways:
Foster or adopt a child. There are approximately 153 MILLION orphans in the world right now.

Organize a 5K for a charity that helps with human trafficking.

Volunteer at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. You can Google this to find one in your area.

Make kits for homeless people, and take them to places where they’re hanging out.

Get to know your neighbors and spend time with them. Build relationships with people who don’t know Jesus. I promise this is okay. He likes it when you do this.

I realize not everyone is going to be able to do all of these things. But we can each do some of them, right? And none of them requires us to be negative and hurtful. They’re all things we can do for the people Jesus loves as much as He loves us. He died for them, too. Even the grouchy ones, the poor ones, and the unwed pregnant ones.

One last thing we can do is try our best to act like Jesus. Now, we aren’t perfect, we’re people; and people screw up. But that doesn’t excuse us from the responsibility we have to be the best possible reflection of Christ we can be. This means going against our nature and what society expects us to do. Following Christ means laying down who we are and being who Jesus is instead. (Luke 9:23-25)

Show kindness to someone others pass by.

Be nice to others, even when they rub you the wrong way.

Pray for people who don’t know Jesus. Pray for people you don’t even particularly like. (Matthew 5:44-46)
Resist the urge to retaliate when you’ve been wronged. (Matthew 5:39)

Don’t talk about people behind their backs.

Defend others when injustice occurs. (Micah 6:8)

Being like Christ, being His Church, isn’t easy. It takes sacrifice; you’ll get your hands dirty. But Jesus never seemed to mind being with people who were a little “less” than everyone else. He never asked any of the people he healed about their backgrounds. He just made them well, and sent them on their way. Friends, we can do that today! We can refuse to withhold our love from others due to their past (or current) sins, and we can treat them the way Jesus would if He were standing in front of them. I choose Jesus. Will you join me?

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