Thursday, May 5, 2011

In Jesus Name

I stood there dumbfounded. Our “friends” who celebrated our wedding just a couple of short years earlier were now in support of an outrageous accusation against us. My husband and I were denied the opportunity to even defend ourselves. In a moment, we were excommunicated from the church of our marriage union.

Trusting anyone in a church setting again took years. Christians are supposed to be known for their love but, in that moment, I felt no love. While there were some who extended their care and concern, the multitude of betrayal blurred the kindness offered by all too few. Hands down, this experience was the most painful, deep and damaging wound inflicted to that date.

Today, however, I am able to thank God for that experience. The pain in my heart was cause to truly seek Him. It was through that specific incident that Christianity became more for me than just head knowledge. The message of 1 Corinthians 13 came alive for me through my heartache. “If I… possessed all knowledge… but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.”

My journey to healing taught me that my allegiance could not be to any group of people. My loyalty was to God alone. (“We must obey God rather than human beings!” – Acts 5:29b) It also became clear to me that Christians will never define Christ. At the same time, Christ should be the reflection of every Christian. (“For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son.” – Romans 8:29)

Turn on the television set and some show, somewhere will have a portrayal of someone claiming to be a follower of Christ. Christians are represented as crazy, self-righteous or just plain ignorant. In the media’s depictions, rarely will you see a sincere example of a true Christian who talks and acts in a manner that honors Jesus Christ.

Claiming to be a Christian does not make it so. All over the world, people are talking and acting in the name of Jesus. The problem is just that: it is all simply talk with a big act. Too many claim the label of Christianity with no willingness to follow Christ’s example. People, too often, declare that they are a reflection of our God only to bring Him shame.

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” – John 13:18.

Christ-followers are flawed examples of their risen Savior. While God will not let me down, humans will. Christians are not perfect. They are saved by grace, the same as me. God knows we’ll screw up. We are far from perfect. The mark of a Christian, however, is repentance, forgiveness and grace.

“Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.” – Philippians 2:1-8

Please, if you choose to wear the name of Jesus, wear it well.

7 comments:

  1. Some of my lessons learned from this experience:
    1) When people show disrespect or manipulation, they lack condifence in the Word of God.
    2) The Bible is more important than the approval of the crowd.
    3)Though others who claimed to be followers of God hurt me more than those who did not claim to be followers of God, I know that God never sinned. He loves me. And there are plenty of people out there who want to serve God with love and many good churches who believe love and truth are equally important.
    4) Authentic friendship is no replacement to plastic smiles.
    5) God is bigger than a group of people.
    6) Others were hurt much worse than us. So we pray for them.
    7) I am reminded of what Martin Luther said, "Unless you can convince me by scripture that I am wrong, here I stand."
    Rod

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  2. I'm grateful you were with me through it.

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  3. Wow - what an application of truth Tristi. I am sorry for the wound this experience caused you, but in hopes of not sounding cheesy, I am thankful for the way you just leveraged this scar.

    Thank you for this post.

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  4. While I know I've caused many wounds as well, I'm thankful that this experience has taught me to think of others. Christ was the ultimate example of that.

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  5. Love the last line.

    Hate what you had to go through.

    Glad you are better for it!

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  6. Forgot the last line...

    Glad it brought you to us!!

    I've loved watching who you have become.

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  7. You were one of the keys to that growth, my friend.

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