Known by How We Love?

Known by How We Love?

They will know we are His by how we love. Really?

There are Christians today that would rather tell people that they love Jesus than tell people they are a Christian. We put “Jesus Lover” on our profiles in place of the “Christian” label. Why? Because today Christians are not known by how they love. Media shows certain Christian groups protesting various causes in anger. It shows Christians being judgmental, rude, and exclusive. They show the worst of us acting the opposite of Christian.

So much damage has been done that to many people the word Christian is becoming synonymous with intolerance, hatefulness, and self-righteousness. Instead of being known by how we love, we are known by how we hate.

How’s that for a slap in the face?

“But,” you say, “we’re not all like this.”

You’re right. We’re not. However, society today loves to slap that label on the whole lot when somebody causes a stir, especially when it comes to the media. The gun owners get accused of being crazy rednecks. The Democrats get accused of being socialists. The Republicans get accused of being hate-mongers. Unfortunately, those who have control are going to portray certain groups however they want the public to view them.

We may not be able to change how the media portrays us as long as there are some out there acting like fools in the name of Christanity, but we can still have an impact on a local level and an individual level.

First of all, let’s remember we need to love each other. If we can’t love our fellow Christians, then how can we love those who don’t know Jesus? How we treat each other is important. If we’re fighting within the church, we can’t expect others to want to be a part of that.

We need to love on social media. You can state an opinion or disagree with someone without being hateful. I’ve seen fellow Christians, who I know personally, attack others in comments while trying to teach someone something from the Bible. I really want to ask: What in the world do you think you are doing? Do you actually think that you can bring someone closer to Jesus by attacking them publicly, telling them they are wrong or ignorant? All you showed them was a hateful Christian. Congratulations.

Sometimes we don’t realize how unloving we are being until someone tells us or shows us. I was so snappy in my office job that a sales rep for the company once told me that some co-workers from another department were afraid to transfer his calls and customers to me because I usually had something to snap about. I treated them like I didn’t have time or didn’t want to help. I called myself a Christian and couldn’t even be loving towards my co-workers. It hit me being told that I treated them like that. I didn’t realize I was coming across that way. I just wanted to get my work done.

Pay attention to how you treat others in general.

According to 1 Corinthians 13, love is being patient and kind. Love is not proud or boastful. It is not rude or easily angered. Calling people names is not love. Shouting at people is not love. Attacking people on social media is not love. Condemning someone for how they choose to live is not showing love.

Our job is not to judge how someone else will spend eternity. We have the Bible for instructions on how to live. Some choose to interpret it differently than others. We have the free will to make our own choices, and how we are ultimately judged for those choices is between us and God, not us and others. My job is to love. Your job is to love. As Christians, our job is to show we belong to Jesus by how we love.

Love is a fruit of the Spirit. If you are struggling with this, then you need to get in tune with the Spirit. Read your Bible. Spend time in prayer and in worship. If you aren’t staying close with God, the fruits of the Spirit can begin to spoil within you. Don’t let love become a rotten fruit.

Be brave!

Be blessed!

Be known for how you love!

xoxo

Ash

Does Church Still Matter?

Does Church Still Matter?

I sat here for a minute wondering how to begin. There’s not really a delicate way to open this topic and maybe there shouldn’t be because sugar-coating isn’t honesty. Sugar-coating doesn’t bring about change. It doesn’t challenge people to look at something in a different way or admit that maybe they feel this way too. Too much sugar puts us into a coma. Biting down on a bitter slice of lemon, though, might just wake us up.

I grew up thinking church was where we went to act perfect (wearing a Sunday dress, curling your hair, and putting a smile on your face) instead of where you go to be made whole (admitting that you are broken, hurting, hungry, and longing to know unconditional love).

When people outside the church are nicer to you than those inside the church, when you feel like an outsider no matter how many years you’ve attended or how many activities you go to, when you hear more gossip inside those sacred walls than outside (not only as a teenager but still as an adult) – you start to wonder what church really is.

What’s the purpose? Why are we really here? Do we really care about the struggling family in front of us or the wife behind us whose husband stays home…? Or are we just here to pay our Christian dues?

Cue the music, raise your hands, shake some hands, drop the offering in the plate, half-way pay attention to the sermon, check the time when your stomach starts to grumble, bow your head, say “Amen,” and next week do it all again…

Cue the bitter taste of lemon in your mouth.

It may not sound so sweet, but it’s the truth, or has been at some point, for too many of us. I’ve played that routine.

When church is just a routine, it doesn’t change your life. When it becomes an exclusive club, it doesn’t reach the lost or heal the broken (inside or outside those walls). Church leaders all over say we need to show up, plug in, and get connected. Okay. But, when you show up and still feel alone because you’re not a part of the original club or fit conveniently into the sub-categories (meant to bring us closer but sometimes divide us more) – parents, singles, etc. – how the heck are you supposed to connect?

Are we really reaching those who need Jesus (inside or outside those walls), or are we excluding them?

We get so caught up thinking it’s the church’s job to do everything that we forget who the church is. You are the church. I am the church. He is the church. She is the church. And if you, I, he, and she aren’t reaching out, who is?

We don’t just need Jesus inside those walls. We need Him outside in everyday life. We need Him at dinner tables, baseball games, birthday parties, work, the gym, the streets…

Jesus got in trouble for eating with sinners. His response: “…It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mark 2:17)

We tend to label those outside the church as “sinners,” but we are all sinners, even those of us sitting inside the church. How can we reach beyond those walls though when we struggle to reach those already within them? We don’t think that we, or those sitting around us, need help because we’re already at church. Or, our help is a simple “I’ll pray for you.”

Now don’t get me wrong, prayer is important. We need prayer. We should absolutely be praying for each other. I appreciate when a friend says they are praying for me (especially when I haven’t told them that I need it). Being part of the body of Christ is more than just praying though. We need to be His hands and feet, and that might mean physically spending time with that friend in addition to saying “I’ll pray.” It might mean setting up a play-date for your kids and hers. It might mean inviting that other couple over to barbeque.

We need to see Jesus and have companionship outside those walls and church-sponsored activities, all of us. We need to see beyond the “Sunday smiles.” We need to see that outside those walls we are real people with real doubts, real problems, real pain and we need real friends with real honesty, real comfort, and even real laughter to heal our hearts.

Let’s stop the sugar-coating. Break the Christian bubble. It’s not protecting you. It’s isolating you. It’s keeping you from doing what He created you to do and it’s keeping you from the healing He is trying to put you through.

If we want the church to matter still, we have to matter to each other… inside and outside those walls.

Are you ready?

Be brave!

Be blessed!

Be His hands and feet!

xoxo,

Ash

Loving Others in General (Love Series – Part 3)

Loving Others in General (Love Series – Part 3)

We’ve talked about ways to love your spouse better and ways to love your friends. Now it’s time for loving others in general, like the general public and your coworkers.

Be Slow to Anger – We have become too accustomed in this fast-paced world now to expect to be able to get what we want when we want it. Lord help us if we have to wait 5 extra seconds for something or someone, lest we get hot-headed. Really! That’s how impatient society is now. People are quick to anger when dealing with traffic, waiting in the checkout line, or sitting in a drive-thru. Don’t get angry at people when you don’t get what you want when you want it. Show love by being slow to anger.

Be Mature – “That jerk cut me off! I’ll show him!” or “Throw me under the bus at work… you just wait! I’ll make you look bad!” Sound familiar? The need to retaliate is a fleshly desire. And don’t think for one hot second that I don’t know how much of a struggle this is. Trust me, sister. I know! It’s difficult to choose love over justice. It takes strength to choose love over retaliation. We need to do it though and be mature.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. Romans 12:17-20

Offer Help – Let’s not let basic courtesies fade away. Open the door for someone. Hold the elevator for the next person. Let someone in front of you. Let the other person have the parking spot instead of rushing into it first. Help a coworker finish a project.

Jesus came to serve, not to be served. Show love by helping others.

Smile – I’ve talked about this before, but I feel strongly enough about it to mention it again. Smiling can go a long way in someone’s day. Smile at others. We often don’t realize how we look when walking through a store or standing in line. Pay attention next time, and you’ll most likely see a lot of scowling faces or just “bleh” expressions. Pay attention to your expression. Smile more in general and you’ll come across as a nicer person. It may even be infectious! So, love others by smiling!

I’ve got a surprise for you mommas next week! Stay tuned! And if you’re not already, SUBSCRIBE TO MY TRIBE below so you don’t miss the next post!

Be loving!

Be brave!

Be blessed!

xoxo

Ash