Yesterday, I was accused of presenting a gospel that is all about “love, love, love.” I was accused of picking and choosing what parts of the Bible that I wanted to live out. I was accused of ignoring the Old Testament, accused of creating my own version of God, accused of misleading Christians on the teachings of Jesus Christ, and following a children’s simplified version of the Bible…among other things.
I felt compelled to clear up the misconceptions that were presented in the comments of my blog yesterday. Firstly, I do not want this to be a place where your beliefs or your relationship with Christ is attacked or considered “childish.” I deeply regret that the comments spiraled. Know this: God does not hate you. God does not cause people to sin in order to test us. And, God cares about every single one of us, contrary to the “a human, or 500 humans are nothing compared to his will” belief that was broadcasted.
I am deeply saddened that there are people out there that promote a Gospel that is driven by fear. Just as I was accused of picking and choosing which parts of the Bible to follow, so was this enraged commenter…except, they were choosing the parts that painted God as an almighty dictator/master chess player; sitting above all of us, manipulating outcomes, forcing others to sin in order to test us, and ultimately orchestrating all of the bad things that happen here on Earth. I do not subscribe to this way of thinking. And just as I was encouraged to look at the entire Bible, people with this line of thinking need to do the same…preferably start in the book of Matthew. I will not pretend to be a master theologian. I have read the entire Bible, but if someone asked me to pull a verse out of my back pocket, it would be a summary, it probably would not have the exact version and chapter, but that does not mean that I am not worthy to have a relationship with Christ, or, as the commenter suggested, that I am not good enough for Jesus. If you can not read, Jesus came for you too. If you can not memorize, Jesus came for you too. If you never pick up a Bible, I believe that Jesus came for you too. My friend Chris said it best. He started with something simple, something that he could understand and easily work with, Matthew 22:36.
36: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37: Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
And in 1 Peter 4:8 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.”
Yes. That is a lot of love to go around. I think it is important to understand that God loved us first. I think yesterday could have used a little bit of humility. My intention for the original post was just that. Admitting that we do not know the answers, admitting that we do not have it all figured out, but that is ok. 1 Peter 5: 6 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
Lastly, I am not an expert. I do not claim to have all of the answers. In fact, I think I’ve said just the opposite. I failed yesterday, because I may or may not have called this particular commenter an asshole more than a couple of times. I hope that God can show me how to love someone like that, how to communicate with someone like that in the future, and just as God’s heart breaks for others, I pray that God will break my heart for this person as well.
There is this video that I have posted before, but it never fails to bring me to tears. It is the famous words of the late S.M. Lockridge, and just seems fitting to include in today’s post. Thank you for reading. Thank you for engaging. I appreciate each and every one of you.
Also, I chose not to delete the comments from yesterday. You are welcome to go back and read what happened. The comment thread is now closed, but if you have any thoughts about it, you can comment here, or email me directly.