Good morning everybody! Hope you’re all doing great! I know I’m trying to make the most of today, even with everything on lockdown. I’ve been keeping myself busy. But I also feel like I’ve grown closer to Jesus over the last few days. Some eye-opening things I experienced last night and last week, have helped me to truly see what it means to be a follower of Jesus, and how to be just a little bit more like Him.
Last week, as the Coronavirus was ramping up, many were nervous, or outright panicked. Who can blame them? This virus is serious business. Anyone who doesn’t think so probably needs their head checked. But one of my friends was seriously panicked about how the Coronavirus was going to affect her job, her husband’s job, and her little daughter’s safety. While any parent would worry about these things, I also felt she was struggling to find peace in anything she could since she doesn’t have faith. She’s a hardline atheist who doesn’t believe in God, let alone Jesus. She is free to believe whatever she wants though. I do not judge her. On the contrary, I love and care about her as a good friend. Very much. She’s a sweetheart!
Before talking to her when she was panicked, I had a thought: Should I tell her about my faith in Jesus? I decided against it. Kind of. I knew preaching and telling her to “have faith” didn’t make any sense. It was not the compassionate thing to do. I’m almost certain Jesus Himself wouldn’t have handled things by preaching to her. He probably would’ve sat down next to her, listen to her troubles and then gave her a hug. And then He would’ve stayed next to her.
But I did use something my friend Tony taught me, and I hope it helped at least a little. She mentioned that her daughter brought her peace and kept her grounded in times of stress. So I told her what I learned: If there is a God, those we love are extensions of His love to us when we cannot see or feel His presence directly. And we can be an extension of His love to others as well. Everything that brings us peace and happiness as well can be an extension of Him.
In times like these, where many die, and those who don’t are still forced to look their own mortality in the face, I believe compassion, love and understanding come before preaching fire and brimstone. But many, many people still miss the point, and loudly and obnoxiously preach instead of actively striving to love people the way Jesus would. This was the case last night, when another friend of mine, a really cool guy who considers himself an Agnostic (or in his words a Nontheist) was basically outright condemned for his beliefs by someone masquerading as a “Christian” on my Facebook page.
Few things anger me faster than someone disrespecting a friend of mine. That’s one strike. I get angrier when someone ridicules that friend for their beliefs. Strike two. By the time the guy condemned my friend, and called me “lukewarm” in my faith for coming to his defense, I’d had enough. Strike three. I was about as cuddly as a wolverine after that! I was not happy!
Some people like that guy I dealt with last night would’ve preached to me and my friends to accept Jesus before it’s too late, for we do not know if or when the Coronavirus will reach us personally. And they’re right in a way. Jesus IS the way to Heaven. But their approach seems wrong. I do not believe in preaching to people. I myself have had bad experiences in that so-called “Christian” environment, and I have plenty of pointed things to say about those who preach God’s word, but who don’t attempt to live it by sincerely loving others through their actions. They get no respect from me.
They’re modern day Pharisees. So concerned with the outward appearance of being people of faith, yet completely oblivious or willfully ignorant of how they come off to others. And blind to their own sins. A legalistic attitude to the core. I am reminded of this clip on YouTube from one of my favorite movies, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus firmly puts Caiaphas and his buddies in their place. And I absolutely love it!
This is my own personal take, but I truly believe those with genuine faith in Jesus aren’t judgmental, angry, and legalistic. They’re the exact opposite. They’re kind, loving and understanding. While we all sin, true Christians aren’t as nasty, judgmental or mean because they’ve been at rock bottom at some point in their faith or journey with Jesus. They know what it’s like to truly recognize their sins and feel awful about them, and they make a point to not judge other people for their shortcomings.
I doubt any of these fire and brimstone people have truly felt guilty of their sins. I bet they’ve never truly wrestled with, or questioned things a day in their lives. Wrestling with one’s faith helps foster humility. Realizing our own flaws, and that we need Jesus to cover for them helps us to be more compassionate to others when it comes to things we struggle with. And I believe this to be especially so for being compassionate toward those who may not believe in Him.
The world hates Christianity because of the kind of approach some people take to spreading Jesus’ message. I want to be the polar opposite of that. Quieter, more understanding and loving toward people who are struggling, lost or hurting in some way. And more inclined to try to put my faith into action. Either here through Luke’s Thoughts, or better yet, out there in the world showing people the love Jesus has for them. For as Saint Francis of Assisi says, “Preach the Gospel. Use words when necessary.”
I’m curious: What recent opportunities have you had to put your faith or beliefs into action with other people? You don’t know how far random acts of kindness can go, or who they can impact. That’s God in action through us. Drop a comment in the replies! 🙂