We recently saw a testimony from a man who came from a drug addicted, criminal background who was given the tools he needed to believe and receive Jesus as his Lord and Savior. And now he is a worship leader, singer and songwriter. We also (those who watched Ravi last week) saw lives transformed while in Angola Prison- one of the most notorious places for the most hardened and violent criminals.
We have all probably seen or heard various testimonies from people who were truly enemies of God, yet were touched at some point by having heard the Gospel and also became children of God through believing and trusting in Jesus as their Savior.
In Scripture, the best example of a major heart change happened to one of the most hardened hearts displayed towards followers of Christ- Saul the Pharisee.
We may never know who will, through a seed of caring, or seeing someone live the Word, walk the talk, sharing Him- come to saving faith in Jesus. But the fact is, that God knows, and expects us to reach out to those enemies in love to show the Truth, Life and Way through Jesus to reconciliation with God.
One of the things I have always tried to do when writing- whether articles or comments over the years, is to make people think. Whether or not they agree or not is not an issue that bothers me- its whether or not they come away with a sense of thinking about things and seeing a different ‘angle’ than maybe they have thought about before.
Something Lawngren said in his recent study of the Book of Luke grabbed my attention and made me think, but it also might have been the poked hole in the dam in my head to help me get what’s on my mind out.
“Let us not go beyond what God tells us. Let us not be the cause of bitterness toward God and the salvation He has provided for all humans. Also, let us not allow our own anger and resentment to be the basis on which we react to wounded souls. Again, some of us learned that in the political wars. It may be that we would never have changed anyone’s mind by humility and reasonableness, but we certainly had no success by responding with anger and harsh words. Let’s not make that mistake again in matters of faith.”
I spent a lot of years writing political and issues based articles. Many of them scathing, frustration driven to open up eyes and discussions on much of what the previous administration and government were doing which showed a two tiered legal system, corruption and dangerous (lethal) agendas. While I constantly researched and made sure something was truth or at least did my best to cover all sides of issues, I know that there was a ton I just didn’t know. And I still don’t.
But I sure had enough vitriol and disgust, frustration and outrage to be ‘righteously’ angered. And yet, this same anger transcended political parties to where there was no more point in even trying to write politically from an honest perspective anymore, because both sides in government were corrupt, and the voters are no longer listening; only trying to out shout each other.
Our country is broken and sick. It has been for a long time, but the last few years of politics has seen every festering infection just spill over into shouting matches, insults, name calling and disregard or disrespect for the people behind the labels. It’s common to see groups of people painted with very broad brushes, assuming that because one is rotten, they all must be.
For example, I’ve seen liberals- anyone who is one, or assumed to be one, painted as-evil, disgusting, libtarded, demoncraps, stupid, hypocritical, vile and traitorous. And those labels, coming from many who call themselves Christians.
I’ve seen people much like myself who don’t fall into any political box called much the same, only plenty more. And, I’ve had plenty said to me over the years, being called naive and ignorant when it comes to American politics and government because of my ‘simple’ minded ideas, from people on both sides of politics- only because of the ways I tried to get people to look outside the political box and find real solutions to heal our country.
But I have to say, I was naive in thinking that people wanted change, yet people seem to prefer to just being angry while waiting for others to change. I was also naive thinking that things would get better through politics, and by writing opinion pieces.
I guess what I’m trying to say is for a long time, ever since I started writing- even before getting on the internet, I’ve been great at throwing sarcasm, witticisms and opinions, but short on trying to see and understand that there are individuals behind every name, taunt and accusation- who aren’t evil, mentally incapacitated, demonic, vile or traitorous. Half of my family and some of Michael’s family were democrats, socialists and liberal progressives. I’d never use words like those to describe people who were kind, generous, who love their country(s) and want a better world with a whole lot less hatred. So why would I describe others that way? Why would you?
Have we ever considered talking with them one on one? While many times their minds aren’t changed, but by us showing respect and kindness, do you not see that we can keep the dialogue open so maybe we can be an example of the Christ we claim to follow? We might never change someone else’s mind, but how many hearts may be changed?
I called this article Dim Bulbs for a reason. And you might be wondering about the feature photo, why I chose the satellite view of North and South Korea at night. The people in North Korea don’t realize how dark their country is because they’ve been so long without light. We can see the stark difference though, those of us who have been used to light.
I heard a story the other day on the radio, the daughter of one of the morning DJ’s brought up an incredible point when talking about how one day during a storm when it was dark outside, she turned the lights on in her room- only to still have a hard time seeing. She had never noticed the dimness of the room when the sun was shining, but realized that one of the bulbs in her light was burned out.
For a long time I’ve had a warning from Jesus on my heart. It comes from Revelation 2:4-6 and taken in the whole context could describe western, particularly American Christians perfectly…
Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
We’ve forgotten not only our first Love, which should be the focus of our attention, but also forgotten to follow His example of loving others, even our enemies. Yes, we do hate the practices of those who don’t know, ignore, mock or disrespect the Lord, but we don’t exactly try to shine a light for them either, because we don’t realize how dim we’ve become.
We may have been used to the light, but like someone being in a dim room doesn’t realize how many bulbs are burned out.
Notice that Jesus never called the lost retarded or demons, He never called an individual what many Christians call each other these days. He didn’t condemn even though He has all power and Holy Righteousness to, instead He loved them, and gave them salvation if they accepted it.
If we spent as much time giving them the gospel, loving them by seeing and talking to them as individuals who are lost, instead of spending all our time looking to religious leaders and government to somehow protect our God given rights (which interestingly enough are chipped away under both parties), and legislate morality (which has been the agenda for longer than I’ve been alive through religious/political pacs and groups yet society has become worse), maybe things would change. We won’t know how many hard hearts can change until we brighten up the room, or share the healing message of Jesus.
Hating the enemy is easy these days, but Jesus doesn’t call us to do that, does He. He knows people’s hearts, and we are missing out on incredible opportunities to witness it when they’re transformed.
I’ll leave with something Puddintain commented on the same study of Luke, “God doesn’t just give us a list of things to do. He points out the way to please Him, and in the process, change the world: Focus on Him and others. Praise Him, then love others.”
More on this next time.