Take It or Leave It

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

The hardest things we go through have the greatest ability to change and teach us. I don’t mean I’m a glutton for punishment because to be honest all the bad things in my life I try to avoid. The bad can be good.

Our sermon series at church right now just crossed my mind. The series title is Take It or Leave It. Annie F. Downs is preaching tomorrow. Her words are always poignant. I’m going through her book 100 Days To Brave right now, and her offering is making me braver. I digress. Let me get back to the Take It or Leave It series.

How many bad things in your life have you wanted to leave? Yeah, me too. All of them uh? I don’t purposely seek out suffering. I usually try to limit risk when it comes to pain. But alas the third grade happened for me in a little Kansas town, and I haven’t been the same since even though I became a Christian that same year. Following Jesus doesn’t mean we won’t suffer. In fact, it means we will. That won’t always be the case because as you know, if you’re a believer, there will come a day when suffering will not be a part of our experience. Not only will we have a new body not subject to decay, but we will have 24/7 access to the Creator where sight will be faith. All questions will either be mute or answered, and the fears we have now will be no more. We can’t comprehend that now. We can have incredible peace and contentment right now, but even those are fleeting because we have an Enemy who is still able to insight us to sin. I think that also implies that we have the choice not to sin. We have no choice in whether or not we are tempted because our evil desires entice us. We justify giving into the temptations because well, we wanted it, or they had it coming. What a lie. We believe lies everyday, and we get into situations that have years behind the habits, and we believe other lies that convince us we can overcome those habits. I can’t. I am powerless apart from my LORD Jesus Christ. There is not a day that goes by when I don’t call on his name. I called on his name many years ago in Kansas when I became a Christian, but thank the Father the gift of the Holy Spirit was given me because again, there’s not been a day I haven’t needed the Holy Spirit. The grace and mercy of the Father is the greatest wonder of the world because not only does he love the entire world, but the 2nd chances are “limitless.” I quote limitless because my theology has a Judgement Day, and that day God will separate the sheep from the goats, and I will not be among the goats. It saddens me that there will be those who do not choose Jesus, but no one is forced to make him LORD. I wish that were not the case, but the Bible is clear that that will happen. I take a very high view of Scripture, and I lean heavily upon the fact that not everyone who says, “LORD, LORD will enter the kingdom of heaven.” And I’m also thankful I don’t have to make that decision. I am his servant. I am his child, and it’s not up to me to judge others. I hold others accountable when they make bad decisions, but that’s drastically different.

Jesus knew how to be with people. He knew how to love them without being obnoxious about his agenda. He broke bread with tax collectors and prostitutes. He rubbed shoulders with the rich and the poor. He saw through the labels human beings give other human beings because he knew they were created by his Father. He was first and foremost God in the flesh, but he refused to consider equality with God something to be grasped (Philippians 2). I get angry when someone cuts me off in traffic. My sin is constantly before me. I truly want to be near the Father, and I want to do his bidding, but sin is a powerful reality I give into everyday. That’s not fatalistic thinking. That’s a mature attitude that knows the power of the evil one. But his power is not greater than the one who dwells in my heart and mind. That’s also a mature attitude that sets me free.

There’s been many who have given Jesus bad PR. I think we’ve all tried to create God in our own image, and that’s sad, but I think when we truly pause long enough to be comfortable with silence we can see we have a good Father.

It seems kind of funny that I write this from the United States, but we aren’t united. Our country was founded because our forefathers wanted to be able to have religious freedom, and that evolved into freedom to do whatever one person thought they should be able to do, but I think the latest cries for justice show us that there are things human beings must not do. I know not everyone in all 50 States is going to make Jesus LORD of their lives, but those of us who do profess Christianity need to look closer at what Jesus is telling us personally and corporately. Faith the size of a mustard seed can move a mountain. Jesus does not force himself on anyone, but John 3.16 clearly states he loves the whole world. That is epic. How can we in our respective circles of influence spread the love of Jesus to those who are opposed or indifferent? The love of Jesus is going to have similarities to the love the world talks about because love is catholic, but it’s not the same kind of love. He told us that we would have trouble in this world, but that he has overcome the world, so let’s start there.

I’ll take my church families’ advice and take that. Love you guys.

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