did you ever… part 2

Yesterday my pastor said something that wasn’t what you might expect to hear from most pulpits.  In fact, it was pretty much the opposite of what I hear from a lot of preachers, teachers, Facebook posts, and general “Christian” discussion.  He said, “Accept people.  Love them for who they are.  Let them be themselves.  Let them think differently than you, dress differently than you, hold different political opinions.  Let them be messed up if they’re messed up.  The job of the Holy Spirit is already taken.  You don’t have to fix them.  You just have to love them.”

I wanted to jump up and down for a couple of reasons. One – I totally loved what he was saying.  Two – it fit completely into this post I was planning.  Isn’t God’s timing great!   (In another BTW – my life and those of a few people very important to me would probably be different in some really positive ways if I had learned this twenty years ago.)

So, we’re supposed to accept people, love them even, when they don’t fit our ideas of acceptable?  What if they are pro-choice or strongly behind a candidate that I spent the last several years forwarding emails against? (Ok, that was an editorial “I”, personally I don’t forward any of that stuff…)  What about the ones who show up for church dressed so inappropriately?  Surely it’s ok to speak up about that- it’s respect for God’s house, right?  What about people who don’t believe at all, who live by completely worldly standards?  Am I supposed to accept them with their tattoos and piercings and wild lifestyles?  What about the gays?  What about Christians who do things that I consider worldly?

What about…people?  Every single one in the same boat as me.  Sinful.  Unable to live up to God’s law.  Some of them haven’t had the amazing gift of grace become real in their lives.  Some haven’t chosen (yet?) to receive it.  Some don’t know about it.  But none, not one, is righteous – and neither am I – except for the blood of Christ which gives me HIS righteousness.  I have done nothing – not one single thing – to be considered “good” in God’s eyes, and yet he loves me totally, unconditionally.  And he asks, no – commands, me to do the same for people.  All of them.

At the end of yesterday’s message, Pastor Curt read the lyrics to a Steven Curtis Chapman song that I had never heard before (strangely enough, being a huge SCC fan).  Even without music, it made me cry.  It talked about seeing other people and remembering where we were before Jesus.  Here’s a link to the video.   It’s called “Remember Your Chains” and it’s definitely worth your three minutes.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FRAYGLMjP4

So, how do we do what Jesus commands?  If you remember the last blog, Jesus didn’t ask or suggest that we love each other, he commanded it.  That’s a pretty big deal.  He said he was making a new commandment (incidentally, something only God could do.)  I said we would talk about that in the next blog – but I guess I really meant the “next next blog” 🙂  So, next time.

Remember Your Chains – Steven Curtis Chapman

I couldn’t help but wonder what he was thinking
As he stared out the window through the sky
It seemed he was taking his last look at freedom
From the hopeless, longing look in his eyes
There were chains on his hands and chains on his feet
And as I passed him by the thought came to me

[Chorus:]
Remember your chains
Remember the prison that once held you
Before the love of God broke through
Remember the place you were without grace
When you see where you are now
Remember your chains
And remember your chains are gone

There’s no one more thankful to sit at the table
Than the one who best remembers hunger’s pain
And no heart loves greater than the one that is able
To recall the time when all it knew was the shame
The wings of forgiveness can take us to heights never seen
But the wisest ones, they will never lose sight of where they were set free
Love set them free

[Chorus:]
So remember your chains
Remember the prison that once held you
Before the love of God broke through
Remember the place you were without grace
When you see where you are now
Remember your chains
And remember your chains are gone

[Bridge:]
And in the light of all that we’ve been forgiven of
We will find our hearts fuller and freer
To give and receive God’s love

[Chorus:]
So remember your chains
Remember the prison that once held you
Before the love of God broke through
Remember the place you were without grace
When you see where you are now
Remember your chains
Oh, remember your chains
When you remember your chains
Remember your chains are gone

Imagine what your life would be
If Jesus had not set you free
Remember your chains are gone
Remember all that once help you
Before the love of God broke through
Remember your chains
And remember your chains are gone

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