Loving the Hell out of this World

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
John 3:17

 

               I vaguely remember what I learned in Sunday school and youth groups growing up, but I do remember someone telling me that God can’t look at sin because he is too holy. I think this statement was somewhere in the exhortation that we should work harder at being holy since God is holy. Experiences like this can often fill our hearts with shame and disconnection instead of reconciling us to a God who is thrilled to be with us. I’ve met a lot of people that were raised with very similar concepts of God. I had a pretty typical, Bible Belt, Protestant church experience growing up. I am really thankful to have grown up learning Bible stories, songs, and being taught in scripture. All of these things gave me a foundation in God’s word that I will never forget. I also got an earful of things that really skewed my perception of the Father. No one gets it perfect, and I don’t doubt these people’s hearts at all. But if we aren’t careful to really know God’s heart and the person of Jesus, we can end up with our heads full of religious mumbo-jumbo and whacky beliefs.

               The church at large could use some deliverance from some of it’s bad doctrines. I’m really thankful that I had people in my life who showed me Jesus and connected me to a God who isn’t a dictator in the sky. Unfortunately, many believers are still imprisoned to a dualistic view of God because that is what they were taught in church— a stark separation between the natural and the spiritual. It’s the divide between the secular and the sacred, the holy and the unholy. Is this not the very thing that Jesus came to set us free from? “The veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Mark 15:38). Jesus set us free from the shackles of religion and opened a new and life-giving way straight into the presence of God (Hebrews 10:20). The divide does not exist anymore. We are new creatures, holy in his sight. And yet, often we are taught that God looks down upon our humanity—that our natural humanity is ungodly and unspiritual. I grew up believing that God was present in church and youth group but he didn’t care to be present in school or sporting events or entertainment or other mundane things. I always felt God was a bit ticked off by our humanity but showed favor as long as we did enough “spiritual” things. That would be a bummer. But didn’t God himself choose to be born into this world as a human man? The humility of God always stuns me. He fully embraces our humanity and shows us what connection with the Father really looks like. Was Jesus any less spiritual in his woodshop than in the temple? Not at all. However, the religious people labeled Jesus as a “glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Matt. 11:19). Take time to think about that.

               We are free to live a life of no separation. We are with God in church and we are with him on the streets, in the bars, in the ice cream shop, and in our backyards. The church has been fearful of the secular world for far too long. But Jesus intentionally pursued friendship with those who were unholy, ungodly, and unrighteous. And yet we are taught he can’t look at sin? Wrong. He will dive headfirst into the ugly mess in our lives to find us and pull us out. If Jesus were walking the earth today would you even cross paths with him? Or have you lived afraid of life outside the church walls? If we could see where the Spirit of God is hovering I think plenty of us would be shocked. He is everywhere—bars, schools, malls, dirty hotels, and dingy neighborhoods—waiting for believers to spill out his love on all people. I love that Jesus is interested in reconciling every person on this earth to himself. He isn’t afraid to walk with witches, drug lords, rude neighbors, and mean people. And if we carry his love, we won’t be either. We are called to bring healing and restoration to the broken world we live in. But instead, we are too busy arguing with other believers about whether or not we should be celebrating Halloween. Come on, people! At least go out and love on your neighbors (and maybe hand out some donuts) instead of locking your doors and turning out the lights. Jesus doesn’t hide from the world and neither should we.

               It is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). Our kindness in this world will lead people to repentance. It is our love that has the power to bring conviction and truth and change to the world around us. The Spirit of Jesus is reaching out to a lost and dying world. Will we go where he sends us? Will we have the same humility Jesus had to serve in this world instead of condemn it? We have been given the ministry of reconciling people to God, no longer counting their sins against them (2 Cor. 5:19). This is huge! Jesus modeled Christian life for us. I want to look more like him in this world. I want to be a beacon of light and hope, loving the literal hell out of this world.  

 

Holy Spirit, we know we are not of this world, but we are in it as Ambassadors of heaven. Give us the courage to lavishly pour out your love in all places. Help us to look more like Jesus on this earth. Give us eyes to see every human being for who you created them to be. Teach us how to love like you do. Fill our hearts with your kindness and goodness and generosity. We want to go where you go and be part what you’re doing.  


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