Congruence

This past Sunday, part of our lectionary readings came from 1 John 3:16-18 –

“We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another. How does God’s love abide in anyone who has the world’s goods and sees a brother or sister in need and yet refuses help? Little children, let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.”

Christianity isn’t solely about a declaration that you are a Christian, or saying some kind of prescribed “sinners” prayer, or getting into arguments showing how right you are in your belief about any members of the Trinity.

There is too large of a segment of Christianity that seems more interested in saying they are Christian, rather than in being Christian, which really means being Christ-like.

Christianity was called “The Way” early on. The focus what on how faith was lived out, not on the label.

It seems just too easy to adopt the label of Christian these days all the while living in opposition to what it means to be Christ-like.

In this Sunday’s lectionary, we’ll hear more from 1 John. Chapter 4, verses 20-21 read this way: “Those who say, ‘I love God’, and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.”

When I hear Christians profess their love of Jesus, but then condemn a variety of people, I just have to scratch my head. Scripture tells us to love others, not determine whether they are saved, or worthy, or clean enough spiritually. All that does is come off as holier than thou.

I understand that often this is done from a position of love – that’s what is claimed. The argument is that it is loving to try to prevent someone from receiving eternal torment. While I hear that, it doesn’t come off that way. It comes off at arrogant. It comes off as judgmental. It comes off as something the Pharisees would do. There is little consideration for the hearer of such words being thrown their way.

The questions we should be asking are this – what is the most loving thing I can do with someone I disagree with? What is the most loving thing I can do with someone who I am convinced is wrong? What is a loving way to interact with my enemy?

Because if all you are doing is trying to convince yourself and others that God hates the same people that you do, then there is something wrong with your theology. Because you aren’t perfect. And neither am I.

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