Today is no different. It's really no secret that Christians around the world are persecuted for their faith. We've been pretty blessed here in America, and I know there are many Christians here that realize how good they've had it compared to our brothers and sisters in other countries. However, it is clear that our freedoms, even in the area of our faith, are being eroded away. Those who preach tolerance want everyone to tolerate everything. Oh, except for Christianity. We must be careful not to link one faith to its followers that have committed acts of terrorism in our country and others, yet, feel free to fling insults at the Christians and call them names. Feel free to tell them their faith is unacceptable. Feel free to shame them into being quiet about that gospel. Feel free to make it so that it's against the rules to make any gesture that may look like they're publicly thanking God. Then? Tell them they need to tolerate ALL views. Hmm.
I heard a sermon at church yesterday that I've been rolling around in my head. It was basically about Matthew 5:44,
"But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;" (KJV)
Forgiveness was also discussed.
"And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep." ~Acts 7:59-60.
I need to say, I was definitely convicted. Yes, I do pray for the leaders of this country, and for those with whom I don't agree, and for those who are persecuting my brothers and sisters in the faith, and for those who are intent on basically outlawing Christianity. I honestly can say that I don't hate anyone. However, I have definitely become angry, and maybe even get a little bitter, when I hear what's going on in this world. And I know my Father doesn't want that for me. So, I'm asking His forgiveness for this, and for His help in forgiving and feeling love when it's REALLY hard to do.
That being said, many people and even many Christians don't understand that love doesn't always feel exactly like we think it should feel. When many people think of love, they think of the warm-fuzzy, good feeling. Many people think that anything that makes them feel bad about what they do is surely hate. They think that keeping quiet instead of saying something that may hurt or offend someone is the loving thing to do. But, that's simply not true. Recently, my husband had to yell at my four-year-old to get out of the street because a car was coming. He didn't listen (he wasn't paying attention) when hubby said it in a normal tone "Hey, get out of the street, a car is coming." So he then had to yell. Then he was told he couldn't ride his bike in the street anymore that day (we live in a neighborhood where their is a "main" road, and then little road loops for each section of houses, so kids play in the street on the loops all the time...hard to explain, but they're by no means busy and drivers know to be very watchful). My four-year-old started crying. His heart breaks when he has to get yelled at, and obviously he was upset about not getting to ride his bike any more that day. No warm-fuzzies there. Does that mean my husband hates his son? Because he told him what he was doing was wrong, that he needed to change it NOW, and it made him feel bad? NO! Being silent, knowing what was going on, would have been hateful. Trying to take the time to have a nice, feel-good conversation (at that moment) about how it "isn't really good that you are in the street right now, because a car is coming, and we don't want that car to bump you so that you have an owie, do we?" (trying really hard not to gag here) wouldn't exactly be loving, either, considering our son could have been hit (if the driver hadn't been paying attention) long before that sentence was out. Yet SO many people hear something someone says, or reads something someone writes and says "Well, that makes me feel bad, or offended, or hurts my feelings, or (insert any other feeling that's not feel-good). What a hater!"
I will say here, I have personally seen and heard those who claim to be Christian and spout off some pretty hateful things. I'm not saying that doesn't happen, and that is most certainly not right at all. What I AM saying is, there is no filter. ALL Christians who say something offensive, or perhaps convicting, are haters, according to those who would like to quiet us. They equate being loving with being silent instead of exposing lies and evil, which they equate with hating. YES, the bible calls us to love, and to pray for, and to forgive our enemies. It also calls us to expose evil, and lies, and false teachers.
"For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake. One of themselves, even a prophet of their own, said, the Cretians are alway liars, evil beasts, slow bellies. This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;" ~Titus 1:10-13 (emphasis mine).
Not only are we to expose evil, we are to rebuke sharply those who participate in evil and lies. This is not at all contradictory of being loving, prayerful, and forgiving. In fact, it is a loving act of doing what is right, even when it is hard to do.
When I see my kids doing something they should not be doing, I call them out on it. Because I hate them? No, because I love them! I also love my God and country, and my fellow believers in the faith. When I see things happening that could greatly affect my country and fellow believers, I'm going to talk about it. I'm going to share things that I'm passionate about. I'm going to share the gospel and pieces of scripture that are on my heart. I'm going to share things that are going on that are going to affect others. I'm really focusing on only worrying about what God thinks, and not what other people think (this is not easy, and a struggle of mine). Anything has the potential to offend anyone. That shouldn't keep people silent. Being offended is a choice made on the part of the offended, not on the part of the voice that speaks.
Another thing that has been on my mind lately is political parties. I've seen the articles that state you can't be a Christian AND a Republican, or you can't be a Christian AND a Democrat, or you can't be a Christian AND (fill-in-the-blank). Since when is Christianity linked (or unlinked, as the case may be) to a political party? Let me make this real simple. You can't be a Christian AND not accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior. I am a Christian, plain and simple. And, there are Christians in every political party. I'm pretty sure that it's no secret that I'm conservative. More of my political beliefs lean to the Republican side than to the Democrat side. Even more, they lean toward the Tea Party. Does that mean that I agree with everything those parties stand for, and that I blindly believe everything the politicians on that side says, or let them dictate to me what is right and wrong? No! And it would seriously make me laugh if anyone tried to insinuate that. Does it mean I think every Democrat is evil and that I think absolutely everything out of the mouth of every Democrat is a lie? No! I don't pick a party and then base my beliefs on what they think is right. I look to God my Father and trust that what HE says is right and good is, in fact, right and good. And, it's certainly no secret that I do not look to society and everyone else around me to tell me what's okay and what's not. It's all Him. He has clearly laid out his plan for us in His Word, and that's where I take my cue. I am by no means perfect (another thing I would laugh at if anyone told me that I was trying to portray myself as such)...I am a sinner just like everyone else. I may not have the exact same struggles as everyone else (who does?), but struggles I have, just like everyone does. But I very much long to know Him more and more every day, so that I can learn to be more and more like Him every day. You can't do that by listening to what everyone else says you should do. You can't even do that by listening to what everyone else says God wants you to do. Seriously, I don't even want you to take my word for it. The only way to get to know God and what He wants for you, is to open up the bible and read, no listen, truly listen, to what He says.
Thank you for reading, if you've read this far. :-) These are just some thoughts that have been on my mind, with the atmosphere of our country lately. If you want to talk, please feel free to leave a comment here or on my Facebook page, or message me on Facebook. If you are truly seeking information, advice, etc. I will be glad to discuss things with you, but I will not debate my beliefs, as they are not debatable. :-) Unless you can use the bible IN CONTEXT where any of my beliefs are wrong...any other source is not going to fly. Anything disrespectful will be deleted. My blog, my rules.