Not every Christian has had the good fortune to experience a loving and grace-filled upbringing. In fact, as I have met many fellow Christians along the road of life, I have found that several of them have been schooled in the fear and damnation theology that just truly breaks my heart.
I grew up in a Christian home, with Christian parents and Christian morals and values. My parents taught me through the Bible and we went to church most Sundays. Mom and Dad trained me as best as they could and encouraged me to become a Christian woman.
However, the decision to believe or not was left up to me.
As I left home at the age of 17 to embark on my college career and to fly the coop (WOOHOO), I was much more determined to have a good time than to read scripture, attend church, or serve others. In actuality, my life at that time was all about ME – sometimes I even wonder if I’ve changed much. Sigh.
One day when I came home from Memphis State for a visit, I told my dad that I was not interested in going to church with them and that I wasn’t sure if I even believed as they did. Where was the fun in all those rules???
I waited for a fight, but what I got floored me and spoke as no other words could have.
Dad said, “Pumpkin (SO miss him calling me that), you will figure it out. Mom and I have done our job, now it’s time for you to become who you want to be. We will be here for you and love you no matter what, but you can’t believe in Jesus Christ just because we do. You have to find Him for yourself. And don’t worry; everyone goes through dips in their faith. You’ll get it again, sweetheart.”
Now, I know me. If dad had said, “YOU terrible, rotten, spoiled, half-wit…blah, blah, blah,” I would not be writing GEMs twice a week as I do today. Instead, I would probably be hell-bent on ‘showing him’ or some other very immature course of action.
But that’s not what happened.
Dad subscribed to the love and persuasion technique instead of the fear and coercion school of thought.
And that is how Jesus is, as well.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 1Corinthians 13:1-8
As believers in Christ, we have to be DOERS, not TALKERS.
Of course, we can have our own opinions. But showing our self-righteousness or pummeling others for their lack of belief is not what life is about! In truth, that kind of behavior sounds a little like the Pharisees. YIKES.
Jesus wants us to LOVE others. He wants us to HELP others. He asks us to FORGIVE others.
The parenting side is much more difficult because we are tasked with educating and training our children and as most kids, they only want to have fun, easy and NOW!
However, we would serve them best by teaching them through love and persuasion because in the end that is how we would like them to serve others. Hmm.
Life is full of rules and regulations, but the most important commands are these according to Jesus Christ in the Gospel of Mark and definitely show the character of Jesus:
Love the Lord you god with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these. Mark 12:30-31
So, regardless of how you were raised as a child, are you looking for Jesus today?
Some Wisdom for Today: Proverbs 9:12 – If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you; if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.