I had a conversation yesterday with my local UPS driver. He is a man of color, a little older than I am and has a great personality. We can talk racial issues all day and not get into an argument. It’s very interesting, but the fact is, he isn’t one of those people who are constantly offended by anything that doesn’t go perfectly his way. Oh, he complains, but he doesn’t hold a grudge, at least he hasn’t with me.
He stated that if people would just see each other as people rather than a race or religion, we would be getting along much better. He has a point. When we see others through our judgmental microscope, we see everything that differs from us and not enough of our similarities. We then become hot for our own judgments and not what we were instructed to do (Christians, that is). We allow the little lies of Satan to infiltrate our perceptions and they get distorted to the point where we are so offended we start to argue and fight.
In my observations, I have seen many people who call themselves Christian to behave very un-Christianlike. They sometimes even use Bible verses to justify their message of what others perceive as hate. What’s the problem? Those verses are misinterpreted or misused, “bent” if you will, in order to fit that person’s agenda. An eye for an eye? If that were really the case, then Jesus would have had all those who participated in His execution executed themselves (after He was risen). Instead, He said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
You might consider these Christians “hot” for their beliefs. I do not see it that way. I see them as “lukewarm” for the Gospel and “hot” for themselves. This is a fine line here, because of what modern society has deemed “politically correct”. Politically correct and morally correct are two different things. Politically correct is nothing but compromise after compromise, without any thought of what morality really means. No one has all of their morals completely in line with God’s unless they live strictly by the teachings of Christ. This means giving up some of the finer things in life for the love of Jesus.
Jesus told the story of the good Samaritan. A man whom the Jewish community looked down on with disgust. A man who had his own business to tend to and yet sacrificed his time, money and compassion on a stranger, while the “righteous” men passed this poor, wounded stranger by. These righteous men were lukewarm in their faith because they didn’t seem to understand what living by that faith really meant. They chose their own agendas in place of God’s agenda.
What’s God’s agenda? Pure and simple, it is love. That’s who He is. But we don’t understand that. We see Him as all knowing, all powerful and everywhere, ready to help us when we’re in need. Or we see Him as the one who condemns us for our sins. We don’t see Him as our Father, gently guiding us, allowing us to make our own decisions and then letting us either reap the benefits or suffer the consequences. That is love. But we want everything handed to us because “we’ve been good” (in our own eyes).
When the time comes, we will all be surprised when we find out that in reality, all that we did meant nothing if we did it all without love. Paul said it plainly, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become a sounding brass or a clinging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing”. (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
When we are hot for our faith, our first thought is loving God our Father, and right after that, it is loving everyone. Yes, we stand strong in the teachings of the Bible, but we don’t twist them into making everyone else look like their the devil. We stand strong in our faith by living in love for those people who have been dejected by those so-called Christians, or Muslims, or Jews, or anyone who puts their “religion” above love. Anyone who does not live in this kind of love is lukewarm in their faith. It’s that simple and none of us are exempt from this requirement.
Lukewarm divides us into race, breed, social status, gender, etc. Love gathers us all together and gives (food, encouragement, warmth, peace, understanding). I have been lukewarm for a very long time, but strive to be consumed in the love that God has given me and to share it with those around me. Which might you be?