In light of recent events, I have been struggling a lot with feelings of fear, anger, etc. I am witness to hateful comments on social media, and I feel sick when I see how people treat one another, both in the name of Christianity and not. I am a Christian conservative, I have developed my own views on these situations, and I am in disbelief when I read some opinions of those who share my religion. I am not writing to change your mind, or to assert the “holier than thou” attitude. I simply want to revisit passages in the Bible, passages that Christians are supposed to live by, mostly to remind myself that there is a way that Jesus wants me to live as his disciple.
Sin and evil will always be present in the world. It always has been present in the world, God allowed it since the time of Adam. I have studied history at length, and evil is an unbroken theme. There is simply no avoiding it, there is no way of keeping it out of our lives. Sin and evil will always creep in one way or another.
What matters, what makes us Christians and children of a loving God, is how we react to sin and evil. That is what truly sets us apart from those who have evil in their hearts.
Jesus came into this world to show us how to live while we are temporarily residing here on earth. He, the perfect son of God, came to show us how to live in an imperfect world. He is not only our King, he is our teacher, our guidepost, our greatest inspiration. You know the saying “what would Jesus do?” Those are not empty words that Sunday schools children recite for the fun of it. These words are the truth that Christians are meant to follow.
We were not put on this earth to judge, or to live in fear and hatred. No, we have a greater purpose than that, one that our Savior revealed to us. What did Jesus do? Jesus taught us to love one another, to forgive, to follow the golden rule, to be his disciple.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35)
These words, spoken by Jesus, clearly show us that he desires disciples who are not only bursting with love, but are showing that love to one another. Not only is showing love the greatest way to show the power of Jesus and our Lord, it is the way that HE wants us to show his power. Actually no, he does not only want this from us, he commands this from us. To be a disciple of Jesus is to demonstrate his love on a daily basis.
Jesus takes this commandment a step further when he delivers his Sermon on the Mount. As written by Matthew, chapter 5 versus 43-48 “but I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” Yes, Jesus teaches us to love our enemies, and to pray for them. But why? Because this is the true expression of God’s unending love. It is easy to love our family and friends. It is easy even to love those who agree with us. But to love those who are different from us, who think differently, who behave differently, who believe differently, that is the true test.
God gave us the freedom of choice. Love is, therefore, a choice. God does not force us to love others as ourselves, that is a choice that we must make. God gave us this freedom so that we actively choose who to love and how to love, so that we are intentional about loving the way He does. He wants us to choose the kind of love that he has, free of judgement, free of hatred; this is the way that we demonstrate who God is and our trust in Him.
Jesus also taught us to forgive, for “if you forgive others when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:14-15). We have all sinned. Yes, some have sinned on greater levels, but none of us are perfect. When others sin against us, it is much easier to feel anger than to forgive. But hatred, fear, and anger are all things that keep us from the love of God. These are all things that can destroy our lives if we let them, because they act as the ultimate barrier between us and God. He wants a presence in our heart, He wants us to overflow with His presence and demonstrate his love. But, how can we do that if all we focus on is hatred and anger? How can love find a home in our hearts if we make no room for it?
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). If we wish to be loved, respected, forgiven, treated kindly, then we must demonstrate those to all other people. It isn’t easy. It is something that every human struggles with. But this phrase is the epitome of Jesus’ teachings. It is not our place to judge others, for if we do, we will only be judged ourselves. Rather, Jesus requires his followers to display his teachings to all humans, as a way to demonstrate his authority and his love.
This world is not perfect. But neither are we. Only heaven is perfect, created by a perfect God, who sent his perfect son to us to show us his will. Our time on earth is not meant to be easy, it is meant to bring us closer to God by living in accordance to his will.
Whatever your opinions are, whatever your beliefs may be, and whatever actions follow, make sure that these are done not in fear and hate, but in love in the way Jesus taught. Being a Christian does not mean going to church on Sunday and occasionally opening the Bible, it is so much more than that. It means following the will of God and being a disciple of Jesus, the kind of disciples that He commanded us to be.
We will face sin and evil, we will feel anger and hatred in our hearts. But how we react to that sin and evil, when it creeps not only into our lives but also into our hearts, is what makes us who we are. But we have a Savior, and we know how to act because Jesus taught us how. We cannot reject these notions because they are difficult, we should embrace them because they are the will of God and a way of always strengthening our hearts with His presence and love.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17)