Recently I read a quote by Billy Graham that caused me to wake up and smell some coffee. Graham wrote, “It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict, God’s job to judge and my job to love.”
Graham’s words are in a sense paradoxical. His statement is at the same time simple but difficult.
We live in a world that is full of disagreement. But, at the same time Christ’s instructions for us to love and accept others is not based upon agreement.
As uncomfortable as it is for me to admit, I have learned far more from folks who have disagreed with me than those who have totally accepted me. Would I be as open and well-rounded without antagonists in my life? Probably not!
Even so, it is difficult to fully embrace antagonists! So, maybe Billy Graham is right! Maybe simply deciding to love is a big enough job for one lifetime.
It is not difficult to note that Jesus saved his harshest criticisms for the religious-elite, bullies of his day. Phrases such as vipers, whitewashed tombs and hypocrites come to mind.
But on the flip side, I marvel at how easily Christ handled sinners, tax collectors, an adulterous woman, a serial divorcee now living with yet another man, a small-time con man, a Samaritan woman and a tax collector who was up a tree.
He treated these so-called low life persons of his society with grace, love and dignity.
Jesus’ actions scream out that he did not come to condemn the world. If God wanted to have condemn the world, a judge, a condemner and an executioner would have been sent.
But this was not the case:
“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him (John 3:17 NIV).”
And, this begs a huge question! Are we above Christ…who didn’t come to condemn the world but to save it?
The truth of Billy Graham’s statement settles in. We are in no position to do other than love.
But how easy it is to slip into sweeping, judgmental statements filled with condemnation! How easy it is to hear a sound bite or bumper-sticker sentence and reduce any issue into an oversimplification that is way yonder off target.
And, yes I know…we cannot compromise Scripture. What to do? What to do?
What we can do is make a stand! We can choose to stop reducing others live’s to a series of unloving statements.
Our mouth can be our greatest enemy…to Christ, to others and to self.
What we can do is choose to see what God sees in others; and, then proceed to love them unconditionally, as God loves us. The cross makes a huge statement about this matter.
Simply put, our only job is to love the world that Christ died for. Then, let him do the heavy lifting.
Whoever needs judging, Christ can handle. Have you ever considered maybe that missing piece that we sense in our souls from time to time is the vacuum of our failure to love those Christ died for?
And, yes I also know! We will need some supernatural help to pull this off. Well, guess who is standing by to shoulder even this load?
Let go…and let God.
Through waters uncharted my soul will embark.
I’ll follow Your voice straight from the dark.
Should there come a moment in faith and I part,
Speak to the sails of my wandering heart.
(Captain, Ben Hastings, 2015)