"Christians are hard to tolerate; I don't know how Jesus does it." (Bono, lead singer for U2) I must say that is a true statement. I am writing this blog today based upon a message I spoke last night at FPC
The Pharisees had a code of Morality that consisted of countless minute rules and regulations. But Jesus summed up all moral obligations in one word, Love. He said in Matthew 22:34-40 that the entire Old Testament is wrapped up in these verses of scripture. Paul seconds that motion in Galatians 5:14. Jesus called it a new commandment, to Love God and love each other. Well in my estimation it is not as easy as it says.
Let me explain; John writes that the world will know that we are his disciples, IF we have love one for another. We have a difficult time with that. Religion says there are certain things you must NOT do, or things your should do, they base it on statements such as Don't go there, Don't do this or that, wear this, obey this rule, etc.... Get my drift??? Jesus said, it is simply love. Ghandi said, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."
We have a difficult time with that because of one thing, we have a difficult time believing that God truly loves us. For your memory read Romans 5:3. Cornel West in his book "Prophetic Fragments" said, "To follow Jesus is to love your way through the darkness of the world."
To love God and each other we must believe that God loves us UNCONDITIONALLY. Are we convinced of this? The parables of Jesus in Matthew 20 and Luke 15 are a portrait of God being loving, merciful, full of Grace, over generous, and abounding in Goodness. Notice the prodigal son was still the son even though he was in the pig pen. Nobody is ever what they should be, but God loves us anyway. No matter what you do God cannot stop loving you. Stop depending on your efforts and performance to earn and qualify you. We live in a capitalistic society which says your prosperity is determined by your productivity. So we have a difficult time understanding the Grace of God. It is not predicated on my performance or lack there of! If we can be convinced that God loves us no matter where we are in life, or what we've done, we can love Him and each other.
Some scriptures to consider: John 3:16-17, Ephesians 3:16-19, I John 2:5-6, John 14:21, II John 6, I John 5:3, Titus 2:9-15, Romans 4:11, Romans 3:23-26