How to Believe the Bible and Still Love People

Rant time!

I am sick and tired of people in the media or on social media assuming that there are only two types of Christians. Type #1 being the “extremists” who actually believe the Bible and can’t wait to smack people with rules, condemnation, and judgement. And, type #2 being the “progressives” who care more about cultural relevance, social justice, and tolerance than what the Bible actually says. It’s as though it is impossible for me to believe in a literal interpretation of the Bible and love people at the same time. That makes me mad! Why do they think that? Possibly because of a media bias against Christians, and possibly because of the MANY Christians who don’t seem able to combine belief with loving words and actions.

This rant continues with 4 reminders for those of you who, like me, hold a literal interpretation of the Bible and want to be a loving example of Jesus Christ.

  1. Belief ≠ Reaction

pout-1190741_1920This is a pet peeve of mine. We need to think before we post that meme, or share that article, or make that comment on social media. Are we reacting in a way that honors God or that makes us look stupid? I’m not happy with the state of our country, or current politics, or some of the policies that have been made lately, but I try really hard not to publicly react.

Let’s attempt to think things through and ask questions like, “If I do/say this will it make God look bigger? Will people think He is awesome? Will this create an atmosphere of love and acceptance? Will it push people away?”

Just because something makes me upset, doesn’t mean I have to react on social media. (That’s what my husband, and sister, and friends are for.)

  1. Belief ≠ Talk

speech-1026399_1920We need to know when to say nothing. Just because I disagree doesn’t always mean I have to let people know. It is possible to “not agree” without vocally disagreeing. It is possible to wait to share your opinion until someone asks for it.

When Jesus was here on earth, He asked tons of questions. This is interesting to me because, of all people, He actually had accurate information to give. What if we followed Jesus’ example and worked on asking good questions that encouraged others to talk and process instead of just pushing our beliefs on them?

  1. Belief ≠ Stupid

stupid-487043_1920Just because I do not believe in many of our culture’s more liberal ideologies does not make me stupid. However, sometimes Christians can look stupid because they haven’t taken the time to figure out why they have certain beliefs. I’m not talking about screaming apologetics at people. I’m talking about knowing what the Bible says, searching your own heart, talking to God, and taking the time to “work out your salvation” (Phil. 2:12). Personal stories and experiences are way less threatening than “statistics” and “facts”. Listen, ask questions. Be gentle, be full of grace, and please, try to sound intelligent.

  1. Belief ≠ Hate

heart-462873_1280Just because I do not agree with a homosexual or transgender lifestyle, doesn’t mean that I hate these people! Absolutely not! On the contrary, when I read about the high percentages of  depression and suicide within the LGBT community, it makes me care about them even more!

I believe that everyone was made in the image of God. I believe that everyone has a sin nature that separates them from a relationship with God. Even though I think homosexuality is a sin, I also think that looking at porn is a sin, along with lying, gossiping, and eating too much! Sin is everywhere and it is something Jesus came to destroy! He took the punishment for sin and He destroyed the power of it. How is anyone going to hear and believe the amazing news of Jesus if His followers (Christians) are too full of hate and fear to share the gospel?

We need to love people with the same crazy, radical, intense, unconditional love that Jesus has for us! Don’t think you can do it? Ask God to give you as much of His heart for people as you can handle. I guarantee you will be a tearful, broken wreck who can’t stop loving people even when it doesn’t make any sense!


So there you go. I can believe in traditional marriage, literal creation, Jesus as the only way to heaven, etc. and still passionately love the people in the world. I will avoid public reactions, realize it’s possible to disagree without being vocal about it, work to have intelligent reasons for my beliefs, and destroy hate by the power of God’s unconditional love. Will you join me? If Jesus lives really inside of us, then let’s show Him to the world!

Love and belief.jpg

 

A Rant About Christianity (and Jesus)

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I read a young man’s deconversion story today, and it broke me. Yup, you read that right, his deconversion, as in the story of how he decided that God wasn’t real and walked away from his beliefs. I’ve felt a lot of emotions since this morning…frustration, anger, sorrow.

Do you  want to know why he walked away and chose to stop believing? A lot of it came down to the fact that when his life fell apart, the Christians he knew had plenty of judgement and quick answers, but not a lot of love. And the people who took him in, and loved him, and cared for him, and accepted him, were agnostics.

There is so much going through my head right now…

What would Jesus have done if this young man came to him? Would He have judged him and told him that he was being punished? Would He have given him pat answers and expected him to get back up on his feet? Nope.  I’m pretty sure He would have held him and cried. And maybe Jesus would have talked about how much He hates the mess this broken world is in, and how He can’t wait to fix it. And probably Jesus wouldn’t have said much at all…He would have just been there.

Christianity is broken, peoples; the church is broken. Millennials are walking away from their beliefs every day and I honestly can’t say I blame them.

They are tired of empty tradition, and rules, and religion.

They are sick of condemnation, and judgement, and hypocrites.

So they leave.

Big, fancy church buildings with talented bands, dynamic speakers, and smoke machines can’t keep them either. Because Millennials see past all that. It looks like fake, and Millennials hate fake. They want honesty, authenticity, genuineness…

I sat at Starbucks today with my peppermint hot cocoa, trying not to cry in public, and jotted down thoughts, as fast as they came. Here are some of them…

How Did We Get Here? Maybe too many years of tradition, doing what has always been done. Maybe not enough people who actually know what the Bible says for themselves, so they are easily swayed by teachers/preachers. (That’s what happened with my family and Bill Gothard.) Maybe getting caught up in looking and being different (standards) instead of being caught up with the One who will make us different. Maybe fixating on building a large following (mega-church) instead of fixating on Jesus. I don’t know…I think there are a lot of reasons that Christianity is what it is today. But, there is hope! Because the church is made up of individual people, and if those people begin to love, get to know, and follow Jesus, the church can change! It will change because Jesus will change us!

What Do We Do Now?

  • Examine our hearts. Start with salvation…are we trusting in Jesus and His death alone to save us, or are we trusting in our works, our prayer, that moment we went forward, the time we raised our hand…where is your trust? Where is your faith? (John 3:16-18)
  • Get to know Jesus. Read the Bible for ourselves, not because it makes us more spiritual or to get more brownie points with God, but because we want to know who this God is and who we are as His children. Pray! Not a dry monologue, but a sincere conversation. It might be awkward at first, but it becomes amazing! Coming right to God, as His child, is one of our special privileges. 🙂
  • Honestly, everything else will naturally flow out of these first things. We will be loving, grace filled people because we will see God’s amazing grace and love towards us. We will have joy because we will have experienced God’s Presence. Etc.
  • Jesus will work on us and help us to let go of selfishness, sin, and addictions. Not because we have to in order to earn something from Him, but because He loves us and wants us to be free.

It’s happening. I believe it. God is changing His people and His church. More and more people are finding a real relationship with Jesus instead of a dead religion. Jefferson Bethke (I put a link to his site on his name) is a great example, with his books “Jesus>Religion” and “It’s Not What You Think”. People want what he has to say. They are hungry for more, as his large following evidences.

What Do I Want? More than anything else, I just want the real Jesus to be known! I want people to find a genuine, satisfying, incredible relationship with Him. I want people who called themselves Christians to become obsessed with Jesus in a whole new way. I want Christians to be known for their love. I want them to love sinners and skeptics and haters in a way that makes people think they are crazy. Because that’s how much Jesus loves us. I want people to find freedom, joy, and abundant life because of Jesus.

Thanks for reading my rant! I’d love to hear some of your thoughts.