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Posted By Nan
1 Corinthians 13
 
There has been a lot happening in the last week that has caused me to pause what I am doing and explore. Things that God has been pointing out to me. Injustice. Harm to children. Harm to the vulnerable. People forgetting to Love. People claiming to represent God behaving without love. Behaving in hateful ways. Behaving with little regard to the pain they are causing others. Behaving in ways that harm. Behaving without compassion.
 
HATING PEOPLE FOR THE WAY THEY ARE BORN
 
The first instance of hatred and harm to the vulnerable was a hate campaign directed at a very small and vulnerable group within the world community. That of people who grow up knowing they are living in the wrong body. I am referring to members of the transgender community. 
 
Over the years I have known, personally, through friends and through my counselling work, many people who are transgender. I have seen the trauma they face. The terrible fear of telling their own family their problem and facing rejection. The fear of being rejected by friends. The fear of going out in public and having someone notice they are a different gender to the clothes they are wearing. The fear that leads to you spending hours getting ready to go out, trying to cover up anything that may make you look like a different gender. The fear of being rejected for jobs you are well qualified for because people reject something you have had no power over.
 
This hate campaign was cynically used by some politicians to gain votes in the recent Australian Federal Election. These politicians claimed to love God. Claimed to accept Jesus as their Saviour, the Son of God. Claimed to be Christians. 
 
Yet never in the gospels was Jesus anything but loving with the people he met.
 
In fact the Bible tells us that love is our most necessary action.
 
I will elaborate on that later.
 
PLACING IMPORTANCE ON SPEAKING IN TONGUES AS A PREREQUISITE TO ENTRY INTO HEAVEN
 
The second instance of hatred and harm to the vulnerable was seen in an article I read about children growing up in a fundamentalist church where love was definitely not on the agenda.
 
There was an insistence that people speak in tongues. The penalty for not having that gift was no place in heaven. I am still trying to find a Bible verse that supports that view. 
 
Speaking in tongues is something I have explored over the years. I used to speak in tongues and probably again if I wanted to, but I saw it misused too many times and decided I would not use tongues again. Despite this, God still talks to me, still expresses His love and still gives me insights and messages. When I ask Him if I should talk in tongues He asks me to sit and listen to Him rather than fill the silence with babble.
 
Of course someone can say they speak in tongues and make any noise they want. I have seen it done by people who later admitted to me they were just pretending to fit in. How do you prove a person is speaking in tongues or just making a noise? You can’t.
 
How many vulnerable people have been dragged into churches like this and devastated because they are told they have to speak in tongues when they know they can’t. Babbling away, even if it is sent by the Holy Spirit is not going to get you into heaven.
 
 
 
Posted By Nan
CONDEMNING CHILDREN TO LIFE WITHOUT SUPPORT
 
The third instance of hatred and harm to the vulnerable was seen in a large number of people who have spoken to me about losing their family, support networks and friends because the decided they couldn’t follow the unreasonable and onerous legalism of the fundamentalist churches they had been raised in. Additionally, these vulnerable people were also told they wouldn’t go to heaven because they left the church. They didn’t stop believing in God and wanting to follow Jesus, they just couldn’t cope with the legalistic minefield of extreme church doctrine.
 
Vulnerable young people, who have been raised in such a cloistered environment they don’t actually know how to cope with the outside world, are just cast adrift with no support. Such a terrible thing to do. Such an unloving thing to do.
 
People attend churches with carefully curated music programs, a slick band with a high-quality sound system and a carefully constructed crescendo to mimic the anointing of the Spirit. 
 
People are never taught that the anointing of the Spirit can come at any time. They don’t actually know how to experience it because they are never taught to have a personal relationship with God. Instead they have to attend church at least once a week and get the pseudo buzz generated by the mass energy of a group of people enjoying the carefully constructed music. That buzz, that they believe is evidence of God moving amongst them, is what keeps them coming back week after week.
 
In the meantime there are harsh and unloving rules to live by. Rules that exclude others who are also loved by God. Rules that harm the vulnerable. These rules are keeping people from love. Love for God. Love for self. Love for others. Love for the vulnerable.
 
SHOWING THE WORLD A HARSH PUNITIVE GOD
 
In all these instances I have seen people who claim to love God demonstrating anything but love.
 
I have seen these people show those stumbling in darkness a harsh and punitive God who judges but does not love.
 
But that is not God.
 
It is so frustrating to see people who won’t consider faith in God because they see the harsh, uncaring, judgemental fundamentalists as the face of God.
 
BE GOD'S LOVE IN THE WORLD
 
If you are not like that, please have the courage to speak out your faith. Show those stumbling in darkness God’s love. Be Jesus’ hands of love. Be Jesus’ words of love. Be Jesus’ acceptance and love of all. We all fail to be perfect. We all are sinners. That is why Jesus needed to die for us on the cross. 
 
Forget about what other people are doing. Show them God’s love and let God change them if He wants them to change. 
 
A BEAUTIFUL REMINDER
 
Here is a wonderful exercise I was taught to do. Below is 1 Corinthians 13 from The Message. Read it out as though you are talking about yourself. When you get to the lines about Love put your name instead of love. Read this out loud daily, mean it and never forget to love extravagantly.
 
1 Corinthians 13:
 
If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.
 
If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing.
 
If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.
 
Love never gives up.
 
Love cares more for others than for self.
 
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
 
Love doesn’t strut,
 
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
 
Doesn’t force itself on others,
 
Isn’t always “me first,”
 
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
 
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
 
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
 
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
 
Puts up with anything,
 
Trusts God always,
 
Always looks for the best,
 
Never looks back,
 
But keeps going to the end.
 
Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be cancelled.
 
When I was an infant at my mother’s breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.
 
We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
 
But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love. (The Message)
 
Posted By Nan

I haven’t posted a blog for a while due to the final illness and death of a much beloved 18 year old family pet. That has been a devastating time for us and has required much attention and time to attend to and process.

In the time when I haven’t been posting a blog I have been spending a lot of time seeking God about what I am to post next. Despite there being a lot more I can say about the spiritual aspect of God, I am being moved on to other topics.

Today I am posting a stand alone blog. I pray it answers a question or meets a need in you.

LOVE FOR ENEMIES

Luke 6:27-36

“To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the supple moves of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more payback. Live generously.

“Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! If you only love the lovable, do you expect a pat on the back? Run-of-the-mill sinners do that. If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that.

“I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind. (The Message)

This verse has come up a lot in my readings and reflections over the past few weeks. 

I have always read these verses and felt I was definitely not living up to the standard set by Jesus. I didn’t feel at all nice about the people who have hurt me and bullied me.

When I read this verse again a few weeks ago I spent a lot of time telling God I was a failure on this one and didn’t know how to change that.

Our wonderful heavenly Father just patiently held that space I was whipping myself in.

During this time our beautiful boy died.

It was while I was processing the grief around that I was reminded of something. 

We have a neighbour who is not a nice person. She is a bully and has told lies about us and deliberately excluded us from her little clique of neighbours at our end of the cul-de-sac we live in. She has been the very definition of an enemy.

A few years ago, her elderly dog died. I immediately sent the neighbour a note expressing my condolences to her. My concern was that I knew she loved that dog and would be devastated at its passing. I didn’t think it was right to ignore that. That was as much as I thought about it.

I just got on with life and forgot it.

In the wake of our beautiful boy dying there has been no expression of condolence from the neighbour.

I wasn’t waiting for an expression of condolence, but I remembered I had given her one and understand that her nastiness didn’t allow room for her to care about us.

Then I realised. I had given my condolences without thinking. Just because it was the right thing to do when someone loses an old family friend.

It ever occurred to me that I was doing what I had been accusing myself of not doing. 

I had been loving my enemy.

Her response when my own dog died drew a contrast between the act of loving my enemy because I follow Jesus and the behaviour of one who does not believe in Jesus.

I don’t think that makes me a better person. But I realise it does make me someone who is capable of loving my enemies. So time to stop beating myself up about things I imagine I am not capable of doing, because I actually am capable of doing them.

I wonder if you ever beat yourself up about areas where you feel you are failing to follow Jesus?

Maybe it is time to stop and ask Jesus about it.

It is likely you are following Him more closely than you think.

Allow Jesus to express His pride in your faithfulness and let that knowledge encourage you to continue following Him.

 

 

 
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Nan
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