I start off by sharing that I am not an expert on anything. Oh, there have been areas that I once thought I might have known more than a little something about, but one thing that the years have given me (besides poor eyesight and an extra twenty-five pounds) is humbling revelation. I find that humility is the absolute best teacher, if we are willing to receive and be trained by it.
That all being said, there is no question that darkness and sin abound in our world. One does not need to be a scholarly theologian to come to that conclusion. What is so disheartening is the ever growing collateral damage that our sins are leaving behind. Sin has dire and destructive consequences to be sure. We live in a time where pain, violence, and offense have become the norm, but is it too late to find hope in this world? Our nation? Our workplace and neighborhoods? How in the world do we fight the sin and darkness that come to destroy ourselves and each other??
Now, I again reiterate that my word is not one of any power or authority in this matter, but I believe that the Lord God speaks truth into the hearts of those who seek Him. We are all but one prayer away from His advice, counsel, and direction. I am only sharing what has invaded my heart as I pray and ponder over all that is around us.
The answer starts with something that we all have open access to, but will we receive it and use it? The starting place creates the entire foundation, but will we skip over this step to get to matters that we believe are more pressing or crucial? Oh yes, many people believe that they have the keys to knowledge and understanding, but have we forgotten the most critical and basic of all requirements for hope and restoration to abound?….
It is a word we use in excess. We love coffee, the beach, Disneyland, our families, etc. We love to sleep too! But genuine and deep love comes from the Lord God. In the Greek language, there are multiple words to define varying types of degrees of what we know in English as ‘love’. One such word is ‘agape,’ and it refers to love that is everlasting, unconditional, and transforming. It is this type of love that can take a blameless man to a brutal death on a cross, and leave behind not a single shred of irritation, blame, or offense. Not only that, it is a love that offers total and complete forgiveness to anyone, no matter how much of a sinner they are. Let’s face it; we are all just a mess. This love does not need you to get ‘cleaned up’ or ‘right’. It is there for the taking. It comes from the Lord God, through way of Jesus Christ. He was the one who battled the shame, sin, and death for us on the cross, and what did He leave behind for us?…LOVE. Will you receive His love? I promise you this, it is the answer for your every need, question, and longing.
To the broken sinner…you are loved.
To the struggling drug addict…you are loved. God loves you right now, just the way you are. He loves you as you are injecting, snorting, smoking, or ingesting, and He loves you as you plead and fight through the pains of withdrawal. He loves you as you fall one more time to the beast of addiction, and He loves you as you try to convince yourself and others that this time is the last time. He loves you just as much as He loves any human being who is and ever lived. Will you surrender to Jesus and receive His love?
To the homosexual, bisexual, transgender, lesbian, pornographic partaker, prostitute, and all others…you are loved. God has formed every part of you and loves His creation. He knows you better than you know yourself, and so today, just know that you are loved totally and completely, just the way you are. The walls of shame and anger that you might feel in regards to God were not placed there by Him. Jesus Christ extends love and hope to all, and will not turn you away. Please do not turn Him away. He did not love you more when you were living ‘better,’ and He will not love you any less when you make choices and decisions that don’t align with His ways. His love is constant, no matter what. Will you surrender to Jesus and receive His love?
To the murderers, rapists, pedophiles, terrorists…yes, Jesus’ blood shed on the cross is that strong. You are loved in complete measure. The God who created you is merciful beyond human comprehension, and His love can be your true source of life and hope. It is a love that washes every stain, and leaves behind a new creation. God’s love for you is just as powerful and alive as His love for Billy Graham, Mother Teresa, or any of the spiritual ‘greats’ as we might perceive them to be. The foot of the cross is level ground, with a full and equal portion of love to all who come. Will you surrender to Jesus and receive His love?
To the atheist, agnostic, new world guru, Mormon, Baptist, Lutheran, Buddhist, Muslim, Jehovah’s Witness, Hindu, Catholic, Christian, Jew, and ALL other religions…you are loved. God has never been bound by our religious boundaries. His unconditional and total love for mankind crosses right over all of them. He loves you today, no matter what ‘religion’ you happen to be practicing right now. When Jesus died on the cross, a way was provided for each and every individual to come to God. No need to earn certain theological or advanced knowledge, or to pass through a series of ritualistic steps of worthiness. You have an open pathway to His perfect love through Christ. He sees you, He knows you, and most importantly, He loves you. Will you surrender to Jesus and receive His love?
Hhhmmm, any others? Have you ever lied, cheated, stolen, grumbled, or complained? Have you ever been envious, prideful, jealous, angry, bitter, selfish, or self-righteous? Ever felt that someone of a different race, political affiliation, or religion was beneath you? What about offended? Have you ever held an offense against another and harbored unforgiveness in your heart for them, for any reason at all?
I could go on, but I believe I have touched on every human being who has ever lived, and who ever will. If you take issue with this, I would refer you to the preceding paragraph, and hope that you do not take offense.
The apostle Paul sums it up under guidance of the Holy Spirit…“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners- of whom I am the worst.”… 1 Timothy 1:15.
Why in the world would Jesus Christ do such a thing? The answer has always been there since the foundation of the world…LOVE. God loves you. He loves you magnificently. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son. That whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.”…John 3:16.
The question is, will you now take that love and pour it out into others? If the love of Jesus would flow freely out from those who have been willing to receive it, our world would literally have a love explosion! It would be colossal. We would see unity, restoration, healing, and joy across our land.
I suppose I could have cut straight to the chase and said that God loves all sinners, but there are some groups of people that I specifically mentioned in which some people feel might be disqualified. Not so. We are all sinners, plain and simple.
To my precious Christian brothers and sisters, we are truly free in Christ Jesus, but it was nothing that we earned or deserved. May we use that freedom to love all the more. While we certainly have the right to protest and boycott things we feel strongly about, let’s be sure that we are not boycotting the love He so strongly wants us to spread. He just might be sending you to the very people or places that you feel certain you must exclude. Be prayerful and willing to open your heart to where the Spirit leads, knowing that He might be speaking a different plan and purpose to another. May mercy and grace abound in these things.
“Three things that will last forever-faith, hope, and love-but the greatest of these is LOVE.” 1 Corinthians 13:13
Let’s get busy fighting the darkness of this world with agape love for one another. It is a powerful weapon.