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Following Christ is not easy!

01/17/2017

It isn’t easy, but Jesus made all the difference in our lives, and his teachings enable us to live out his love for others, even when people attack us.  Jesus told us that if we followed him, we too would be persecuted.

“Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also” John 15:20.

By “persecuted,” Jesus meant all levels of attacks that will come against us, from verbal to physical, from the loss of our businesses and income sources, to the loss of every possession we have, including our lives or the lives of our loved ones.  We see this in the United States today.  Then we read about some of the persecution of Christians in other countries and know we are still living mostly normal lives, but the times are definitely changing.  Here is an example of how one Christian couple is handling the media attacks they have been bombarded with.

I read an interesting letter written by Chip Gaines, on behalf of himself and his wife, the “Fixer Upper” couple, who had come under strong criticism because of their Christianity.  The correlation made by an independent digital news feed was that, since they attended church which adheres to the Biblical teachings such as those Bible passages about sexual relations are to be solely between a man and a woman, they, the Gaines, must have great hatred towards homosexuals.  This seems to be the accepted train of thought by people who are consumed with proving that the Bible teaches hate and breeds homophobia.   Since the article came out in November of 2016, this couple has faced a new type of public exposure that has been enough to make most want to fight back.

So, today when I read the letter they had written, I was moved deeply and filled with joy.  Their letter is the perfect example of living out God’s word in the divided world of today.  First compare what Jesus said, and then read the words from Chip Gaines.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:36-40).

“If there is any hope for all of us to move forward, to heal and to grow – we have got to learn to engage people who are different from us with dignity and with love. Joanna and I have personal convictions. One of them is this: we care about you for the simple fact that you are a person, our neighbor on planet earth. It’s not about what color your skin is, how much money you have in the bank, your political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender, nationality or faith. That’s all fascinating, but it cannot add or take away from the reality that we’re already pulling for you. We are not about to get in the nasty business of throwing stones at each other, don’t ask us to cause we won’t play that way.”   (http://qpolitical.com/weeks-attacked-fixer-upper-couple-posts-stunning-response/)

I have been saying the same thing in different words for a long time now.  If a person is a true Christian, then the Holy Spirit of God has come to live in them.  If that is true, and it is, then we should be growing in Christ-like character.  Our mind, will, and emotions must change over time to match up more to God’s/Christ’s.  This means, that if God loves all people, and I believe that is Biblical truth, then I must learn to love all people.  I have prayed that God will allow me to see people through His eyes, and I can tell you judgment has left my soul, and been replaced with a much stronger love for people. In fact, this love sometimes feels like it is bigger than my heart can hold, but I think God just keeps expanding my heart just enough each time.  This is what it means to love your neighbor as yourself, and I am only at the beginning stages of this growth in godliness.  This is what it means to live a life as a Christian.  This is what Chip and Joanna Gaines are doing, and their letter brought me real joy.

Let me simply allow them to conclude this blog post.  Great job Chip.  Thank you for making this choice.

“This past year has been tough. In my lifetime, I can’t recall humanity being more divided. Plenty of folks are sad and scared and angry and there are sound bites being fed to us that seem fueled by judgement, fear and even hatred. Jo and I refuse to be baited into using our influence in a way that will further harm an already hurting world, this is our home. A house divided cannot stand.”

Thank you Chip and Joanna for your strength to continue to shine Christ’s light in our darkening world.

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