Life Theology

Love Non-Christians, No Matter How Different They Are

I was looking through some documents on my computer and I stumbled across one with this single quote from a non-Christian friend of mine:

Christian people will welcome you with open arms into their congregations and make you feel special.  You will experience their friendship, love, and camaraderie.  That is, if you are also like they are.  If you share the same age, the same ethnic background, the same economic background, and the political views, they will accept you into their churches and religious groups.  If you do not have the same characteristics as they do, then they will ostracize you.

I can’t say I agree with that fully, but I can’t disagree with it either.  I know that Christians aren’t just “not perfect.”  We, like every other human, are infinitely far from perfect.  So, inevitably, we make mistakes and discriminate just like everyone else.  The only difference is that we have the power of the Spirit to overcome our selfish and prejudice tendencies.

Though this can be true, I feel that in Christianity today, there is a resurgence of putting actions behind our words in order that we can help others see and experience the kingdom here on earth as well as looking forward to the eternal reign of Jesus upon his second coming.  This happens so that they can “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8).  The actions behind our confession doesn’t provide justification; they simply give evidence that we are in fact justified.  Otherwise, our faith is demon faith (James 2:19).

I want to live my life so that this quote is disproved.  I want to glorify God in all I do so that everyone would see the supremacy of Christ in my life and the genuine love I have (though not perfectly) for every person, no matter what differences exist between me and the other person.


PostSecret, at its Core, Shows the World’s Need for Redemption

I don’t know how many of you have heard of the book series PostSecret by Frank Warren, but I’ve read all four books available and let me say, it’s quite moving, disturbing, breathtaking, and spiritually heartbreaking.  PostSecret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard.  People are mailing in secrets from around the world.  The rule is, the secret has to be true and never been told to anyone else.  The books simply consists of postcard after postcard of people owning up to their deepest, darkest, worst secrets.  Some are lame like, “I love you and I don’t know how to tell you.  I hope you read this.”  Others are serious wounds that are planted deep in the soil of people’s souls.  Here’s an example of one of those deep wounds:

In the original book, there is a red stamp above the title which says, “Free your secrets and become who you are.”  The link above is a blog where people can comment on the postcards.  I’ve read comments (in the books, too) to the effect of: “Since I’ve shared my secret, I have experienced so much freedom.  I feel so much better.”  If you feel as if you aren’t in the loop about this, don’t worry.  It’s not overwhelming society, but it is quickly become a cult-icon.

If these books have taught me nothing else, it teaches me even more the depravity of the human soul.  As I sat and read these postcards last night, I couldn’t help but be convicted at some of my own sins.  I couldn’t help but pray for some of the people.  I couldn’t help but cringe at the fact that human beings are capable of some of the things I read.  You can’t read these books if you can’t stomach some awful words, terrible pictures, and graphic illustrations.  This book, in a nutshell, shows us the need we have a for a Savior. 

You are waiting to hear what I think, probably.  Well, I think it’s good and bad.  It’s good in the sense that people are being vulnerable with others (even anonymously).  It’s good that people can express their secrets artistically and hopefully develop avenues to talk about them and “get it out there” instead of simply having it published in an “art” book.  With that said, there is a good-bad split here.  The book’s not all bad, but it’s not all good either.  It’s bad for one primary reason: there is no redeeming quality. 

People say they feel better and that their lives are “getting in order.”  Some even say this postcard has liberated them from fear, addiction, etc.  But what about the deep emotional scar tissue that continues to build on a person’s heart from a life-altering experience?  A simple postcard does not take away the wrongs committed by the person or to person.  I don’t mean to talk down on the people who wrote in to Mr. Warren — I could have written some of the secrets! — but I say this in so much love because people need something that can take away their sins, pain, tears, worries, hatred, frustration, and fears.  The only thing that is capable of doing that is Jesus.  Jesus is the only one who has righted wrongs and taken people from utter despair to abundant life.  The Bible puts it this way: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).  Everyone who sent in a postcard is a sinner.  Frank Warren is a sinner.  I am a sinner.  And the only thing that can take away these sins is Jesus.  The happiness that people feel when they write a secret on a postcard is so temporal.  The happiness that people will feel, apart from Christ, is simply a momentary burden lifter.  On the other hand, the Bible says, “You make known to me the paths of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11).  If someone remains without Christ, no matter how much they change their life to be a “better person”, they are still in rebellion against God and need to be reconciled to him. 

Only Jesus provides the redemption, grace, comfort, security, and love that is longed for by every person in the world — and that is searched for with earnest by every PostSecret sender (otherwise they wouldn’t have sent in their secret).  Only Jesus can take the deepest, darkest, vilest, most wicked sins of a person and make them whiter than snow.  During his conversion, Charles Spurgeon listened to the minister as he looked right at Spurgeon and said, “Young man, you look miserable.  And you will always be miserable — miserable in life and miserable in death — if you don’t obey [the Bible]…Young man, look to Jesus Christ.  Look!  Look!  Look!  You have nothing to do but to look and live!” 

So if you are reading this and have sent in a PostSecret, or even if you haven’t, then I ask you to look to Jesus so your happiness can be secured for eternity.  Only he can take away your pain once and for all

A simple paper postcard cannot, nor will not, ever do that. 


Loving Should Be Like Breathing


Love One Another Earnestly From a Pure Heart

In 1 Peter 1:22, Peter writers, “Having purified your souls by obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart.”

This “purifying” is not initial saving faith. The New Testament never speaks of people playing an active role in their conversion. The Greek word for “purified” is hagnizo which means “moral cleansing.” Peter already assumes that these people are converted (vv. 1, 3, 10, 18, 19, 21), so it is more likely that this purification is simply sanctification. Christians play a much more active role in sanctification (cf. James 4:8; 1 John 3:3). As Christians, we are more and more sanctified when we are obedient to the truth. When this happens, we are becoming more like Christ.

Now, the phrase “for a sincere brotherly love” may lead us to think that the purpose of sanctification is to sincerely love people. Sincere brotherly love is more a result of sanctification than a goal. The goal of sanctification is Christlikeness, and brotherly love is certainly a component of that.  However, if that were the goal of sanctification, there would no doubt be many private sins that never harm others that would not inhibit sanctification.  But we know that this certainly is not the case in our Christian journey. 

Since we have been born again (vv. 1-21), are now joining God in the sanctification process (v. 22a), and understand how to have sincere brotherly love (v. 22b), we are to “love one another earnestly from a pure heart” (v. 22c).  Romans 12:10 says, “Love one another with brotherly affection.”  Hebrews 13:1 says, “Let brotherly love continue.” We are to love with earnest from a pure heart. The word “earnest” in Greek is ektenos that comes from a verb which means to “stretch out the hand,” thus it means to be stretched out — earnest, resolute, tense. We are to be intentional, bold, and heartfelt with others. We are to be the stiff, strong arm that reaches for someone to hold on to in hard times.  We are to be the stalwart rock for people, like Jesus is for us, so they can see that Jesus is the true rock of defense when they are in dire straits.

I want to love people like this.  Lord, help me. 


Weekly Spurgeon

From Morning and Evening

“My heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels.”
– Psalm 22:14

Our blessed Lord experienced a terrible sinking and melting of soul. “The spirit of a man will sustain his infirmity, but a wounded spirit who can bear?” Deep depression of spirit is the most grievous of all trials; all besides is as nothing. Well might the suffering Saviour cry to His God, “Be not far from me,” for above all other seasons a man needs his God when his heart is melted within him because of heaviness. Believer, come near the cross this morning, and humbly adore the King of glory as having once been brought far lower, in mental distress and inward anguish, than any one among us; and mark His fitness to become a faithful High Priest, who can be touched with a feeling of our infirmities. Especially let those of us whose sadness springs directly from the withdrawal of a present sense of our Father’s love, enter into near and intimate communion with Jesus. Let us not give way to despair, since through this dark room the Master has passed before us. Our souls may sometimes long and faint, and thirst even to anguish, to behold the light of the Lord’s countenance: at such times let us stay ourselves with the sweet fact of the sympathy of our great High Priest. Our drops of sorrow may well be forgotten in the ocean of His griefs; but how high ought our love to rise! Come in, O strong and deep love of Jesus, like the sea at the flood in spring tides, cover all my powers, drown all my sins, wash out all my cares, lift up my earth-bound soul, and float it right up to my Lord’s feet, and there let me lie, a poor broken shell, washed up by His love, having no virtue or value; and only venturing to whisper to Him that if He will put His ear to me, He will hear within my heart faint echoes of the vast waves of His own love which have brought me where it is my delight to lie, even at His feet for ever.