Did you know our Pastor Ryan was a champion at “Simon Says” in his kindergarten days? He shared that claim to fame with a beautiful message entitled “Do what I say” in our new sermon series “Follow”. So many points that he covered made me stop and truly evaluate not only the rules and regulations I assume I must follow, but what requirements I place on others as well.
God’s love story for us has been written in profound, yet simple words, and somehow we have messed it up and transformed it into a complicated maze of do’s and don’ts. (Remember the Pharisees who multiplied the original ten commandments into over 350?) We need to examine how we fall into Satan’s trap of “If I only do this; if others would only act like this; if they would just look the part, act the part”…and it goes on and on.
Jesus is not to be relegated to the game of Simon Says, so that if we just mimic the words and actions we’ll come out with a good score and win the championship. He was and is about honesty, humility, service and love. It is never a game of rules, but relationships. It was not and still is not “believe and behave”. It’s Christ openly inviting us to fall in love with Him as He already has with us. When we toss out the rulebook, be honest with ourselves and truly “get it” – even when we do that, when we see how Christ accepts us, why oh, why do we insist on imposing that rulebook on our fellow sisters and brothers?
When we judge our actions and find we fall miserably short, it is soothing balm to know forgiveness and receive God’s grace and mercy (a blogging topic for some of us lately). Why is it then when we are so thankful for that love that we choose to judge others, checking off their behavior like a spreadsheet of correct vs. incorrect? I need to voice out loud, “Get behind me Satan. I’m not going there!”
“We love because he first loved us. Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also”. 1 John 4:19-21
I love the words Pastor shared. “Jesus was comfortable with people unlike Him and people unlike Him were comfortable with Him.” Am I reflecting that in my actions? My speech? My thoughts? Do I mirror Jesus? My current Monday night bible study [Stepping Out to a life on the Edge] has covered this judging and labeling topic; like if I put others down for the same faults I have – I can justify my behavior and feel superior. Ouch. When God chooses to make a point with me, He does it in multiple ways.
So I stop. I step back and view God’s requirements. Did He give me Ten Commandments? Yes, but not as a brick dropped on my head to remind me that I can never keep those perfectly. He gave those as a mirror and a ruler, but He also gave me His Son who was perfect when I never will be. He gave me so much more. He gave me His undeniable love when I didn’t deserve it. And that is exactly why I need to extend that to everyone I meet.
Again Pastor Ryan shared, “Jesus never said change and then you can join me.” Jesus offered, “Join us and you will be changed!” Inspiring, yes, however my Savior paid much too high a price for me to be merely inspired, but not truly be changed. I need to first be changed and then invite others as they are to know that change too!
“Father, forgive me. Invade my heart to know others as your children; to accept them and love with compassion.”
Blessings as you share. Doneta