A BORN-AGAIN BELIEVER

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LOVE BOMB

love bomb

What does it mean to love one another?

The simple truth is that you can’t really love anyone unless you let God love through you.

That’s the love Jesus was talking about, and that’s the only kind of love. Everything else is fake. (more…)

LOVE

more than enough

People who are hurting hurt people.

 

Happy people don’t hurt people. Happy people want to help people, not hurt them.

 

We need to remember this when people are mean or rude or cruel to us.

 

Jesus said that it’s the sick who need help, not those who are well.

 

Scratch the surface of anyone who is mean or cruel or hurtful in any way, and you’ll find a painful festering sore below.

 

The greater the pain gets, the more people deflect it to other people and blame other people.

 

People who are in pain will growl and bite you if you get too close, the way animals will growl and bite you when you reach to help them.

 

People in pain need prayers, not curses. They need a gentle presence (from a safe distance, if necessary).

 

Those people who treat you like dirt – PRAY FOR THEM. Don’t tell them you’re praying for them, just PRAY FOR THEM.

 

And choose to forgive them.

 

Don’t dwell on their cruelty; dwell on how miserable they must be, not to know God’s love.

 

That’s a horrible cold dark wretched place to live, where God isn’t welcome.

 

We are blessed to know God’s love, to live in his brightness and joy and warmth. Each of us who is born again has enough of God’s love to share with all the world and still have love to spare, just like Jesus had enough loaves and fishes to feed the hungry masses and still have leftovers. Each of us has that much love – enough for every human in the world, and then some – if we let go of any lingering resentment, and let God love fully through us.

 

That’s your job, as a born-again, to love like God loves, to love like Jesus loved, fully and without reserve.

 

Only people who are hurting hurt people.

 

Don’t make their pain worse: help them.

LOVE THE SINNER

 slip in under the radar

One of the easiest ‘sin traps’ to fall into is forgetting that God loves everyone equally, no matter what they do or say.

He doesn’t love what everyone does or says, but he does love whoever is doing the doing or saying.

We need to remember this hard-core fact when we find ourselves repulsed by something someone has said or done. We need to separate the horrible thing from the person doing and saying it. We need to separate the sinner from the sin.

“Love the sinner, hate the sin.”

“Love the sinner, hate the sin.”

“Love the sinner, hate the sin.”

To do this, it helps to see the sinner as you. It helps to remember that you, at times, also say or do horrible things. It helps to remember that you hope not to be condemned even despite your screw-ups. It helps to remember that God shows mercy to you.

Knowing this, we must also acknowledge that:

  • God loves the Muslim suicide bombers who blow up children.
  • God loves whoever was responsible for 9-11.
  • God loves the guards at the Nazi concentration camps who flicked the gas switch on.
  • God loves Judas Iscariot.

This is the God we serve. Our God isn’t someone who hates those who hate him or who hates those who do horrible things. Our God is someone who loves all people equally, even those in hell and those on their way there.

Jesus told us to be perfect even as our heavenly Father is perfect.

God loves us.

All of us.

All of the time.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Years ago, when I was an atheist, I went to an abortion clinic. Because the clinic had received so many bomb threats, the front entrance was permanently barred and people had to enter through the rear gate. An armed security guard stood watch. As I went to enter, a man self-identified as a minister and separated himself from the small group of anti-abortion protestors who held permanent vigil there. He quickly moved towards me and tried to push himself between me and the gate. I pushed him back and the security guard intervened. As he was being hauled away, the minister yelled over and over again that I was a sinner and would go to hell if I had an abortion. I yelled back words that aren’t fit to print here, but you get the idea. There was no love lost on either side. What I remember most about this encounter was that it was with a minister and that his eyes were full of hate. That pretty much summed up my impression of Christians in those days.

Today, being born-again, I understand the loathing that the minister must have felt when he saw me make my way to the abortion clinic gate. I understand his hatred of what he assumed I was about to do, and I also understand how his hatred for abortion could spill over into hatred for me. I get it. It’s easy to do, hating the sinner as well as the sin. It’s a classic sin trap.

That’s why we must always be on our guard against it. Come Judgment Day, it’s probably not the big sins like theft or adultery or even abortion that will condemn us in God’s loving eyes, but the sins that slip under our radar, disguised as holy outrage.

“Love the sinner, hate the sin.”

“Love the sinner, hate the sin.”

“Love the sinner, hate the sin.”

HAPPY CARITAS DAY!

loving snowmen

When I was in university, I had to read excerpts from the Bible for a comparative literature assignment. I was an atheist at the time and hated the Bible or anything that spoke of God in a positive way. I thought believers were idiots and I had zero patience for them.

 

The assignment specifically required me to read passages from Paul’s letter about faith, hope and charity. As an atheist, I had a difficult time reading the New Testament because all the words ran together and I couldn’t make head or tails of what was being said. Trying to read the New Testament for this assignment was no different; none of the words made any sense to me. It was as if they were written in a foreign language that I had no knowledge of.

 

In discussing the assignment in class, my professor talked about “caritas”, or charity, as a type of love that was distinct from other forms of love. He was a kind man and a diligent instructor, and I can still see him struggling to convey a meaning that can only be understood by people who are born again. I doubt whether he, at the time, was born again, or even if anyone in the class believed in God. I certainly didn’t understand what my professor meant by “caritas”, but I dutifully picked up enough of his explanation to regurgitate it on the exam and get a pass for the course.

 

Caritas is often translated as “charity”. It means self-less love, the kind that God gives us. God loves us selflessly, even arrogant university students who spit venom at the sound of his name. He gives of himself without expecting anything in return. As an atheist, I could not fathom a type of love that wasn’t feelings-based and wasn’t meant to be reciprocated on some level; to me, love without palpitations and weak knees just wasn’t love. Sure, I understood that my parents and grandparents loved me without palpitations and weak knees, but that was different. I was expected at least to show my respect to them, so in this they got something in return for their love.

 

But to love expecting nothing in return – what kind of fool would do that? My atheistic mindset had no place for such as concept. To me, the notion of caritas made the idea of God all the more far-fetched.

 

Muddying the waters even more was my personal experience of the charity industry. I saw charities as seedy organizations whose sole purpose was to separate people from their time, energy, and money. How could these organizations truly be called ‘charities’ if they gave tax receipts for monetary expressions of love? Wasn’t real charity supposed to be done selflessly and without expecting anything in return?

 

Despite his best efforts, my professor could not bring me to an understanding of Paul’s concept of charity, nor make me grasp why Paul considered charity to be the highest virtue. It was only after I was born again and able to read the New Testament that I started to get a feeling for what Paul meant.

 

Jesus said to give freely without expecting anything in return, to love your enemies, and to treat other people as you want to be treated. He also tells us to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect. This is the caritas that Paul was talking about – being kind to people without expecting to be treated kindly in return, and giving freely to those in need without expecting anything in return (including a tax receipt or even a thank-you). And to do it all sincerely, and with a smile in your heart.

 

To Jesus and Paul, charity simply meant to love as God loves. No palpitations or weak knees are required. Caritas is initiated in us by an act of our will, not a feeling. It is an act that is done for no other reason than that it is the right thing to do; no personal gain is involved. This is the selflessness that my professor struggled to convey all those years ago.

 

When we say “yes” to caritas, God loves through us. The simple nod of our will gives God permission to work through us so that we can, in fact, love as God loves: fully and selflessly. In saying “yes”, we feel God’s love flow through us, and we know there is no greater love.

 

HAPPY CARITAS DAY, EVERYONE!