Beginning note: This was written a few months prior to the 2012 election.
I once heard “love” defined in a way that completely changed my perspective on the matter. Love, as it was put, means giving up control. It means giving up the desire to change or manipulate the outcome of the relationship. It went on to say that if you have ever given your heart to someone and had it given back to you, then you know how God feels. Because love at its core…is freedom.
We as a nation stand for freedom. We fought for it, died for it, defended it.
Being raised in a Republican household made the belief system there quite obvious. I do consider myself Republican. They seem to fit in line with the things that I believe. The issues that are fought for are fought in line with my beliefs and obedience towards God. Overall I have supported the candidates when compared to the other side of the issues.
That opening line on Love has so often established my belief on how to handle situations. I often say and have said on here that it is not my job to change a person. Nor can I change a person.
I’ve had so many instances where I have deeply desired for a friend to not go down a certain path. More often than not I try to control them. But more recently I have very much focused on the freedom of choice. If my friend is going out and drinking to the point of black out every night I can help him, and I can be honest with him that I don’t agree with what he is doing. And I can tell him that I think it is wrong. Because these are the loving things to do. These are my ways for caring for them. But I cannot, make him stop.
I cannot change him. Nor is it my job to change him. Only God can change a person’s heart. This is the job of the Holy Spirit.
God gave us the freedom to disobey him. This is love. He didn’t force us to do the right things. He didn’t force us to love him. He didn’t force us to eat from the right tree…
Because love at it’s core…is freedom.
And I believe these things and fight for them. I try to not make myself God in someone’s life by telling them how they MUST behave or else. And I now always look at my friendships through this lens. I. CANNOT. CHANGE. ANYONE.
If my friend wants to keep blacking out, they have the freedom to do that. God gave people over to their disobedience. (Romans 1).
You are allowed to do the wrong things. This doesn’t mean there won’t be punishment. This doesn’t mean they are accepted or right. It just means if you want to you can. God gives us this freedom.
The other day it dawned on me in a silly way. Like a divine point that just kinda hit my thoughts and stuck. I have viewed my relationships through this belief. But I hadn’t viewed my politics.
I have made it very clear what my beliefs on Same Sex Marriage are. And I don’t mean that in some superior cocky muahahaha kind of way. But it is known that I don’t agree with it. I am always on the explanation train when it comes to this issue being brought up. And I have stated I would vote against it. I disagree with it. But by voting to say that someone else cannot have this choice. That they must do things the right way. I am playing God in their life. A false God. A God without love. A God who doesn’t allow you to have the freedom of choice.
God does not want us to be forced to do the right things. He wants us to WANT to do the right things. Or in other words being a Christian is not about doing the right things, it’s about having the right heart to do the right things. To steal an analogy:
A man brings home his wife some flowers. She is overjoyed that he thought of her and was so generous to do such a thing. But then he replies with well I thought you needed them so I got them.
It’s just not the same effect is it?
By forcing someone to do the right thing we are taking away their God given freedom to choose. We are over-riding God’s love with our control. And by doing this the church has caused great division. We have steered thousands of people into thinking that we are demanding, controlling people, when our God gives us control to be against him. The freedom to make a mistake. Gives us over to our disobedience. Because sometimes we need to be left with our mess to learn how to clean it up. I will never learn how to overcome my faults if someone always corrects things for me.
This does not mean we have to approve of what is being done. I’m quite sure God doesn’t approve of the things I do every day. That doesn’t make them right, that doesn’t mean he’s okay with them. They are still wrong. But I am allowed to be wrong. Because God wants me to come to him. He wants me to obey him out of love. Jesus says “If you love me, keep my commands.” It is a response to his grace. Not a way to earn his grace.
I find it so strange that I am so adamant about reminding myself of this belief when it comes to my friendships. The belief that I cannot change them or make them do the right thing. But yet here I sit fighting for a heated political issue that actually OPPOSES where I stand on the matter.
The Republican side is fighting for what they believe to be truth. And this is not wrong. But they are controlling people to believe it too. Which God doesn’t even do. Which the belief of supporting God is the main reason the Republican party votes against these issues. For this same God that we are in my opinion working against.
Think of a conversion. A while ago I read a story from Late Antiquity of a Jewish man who was being forced to believe that Jesus is God or else he would be killed. The man said he believed Jesus was God, but did he? The man was just trying to save his life. I can’t speak for the man but chances are he didn’t really have faith. To which his statement didn’t mean anything. Right? Just because we control someone to do something that is “right” doesn’t mean God wants it.
Think of the story known as The Prodigal Son.
There are two brothers and a father.
The younger brother comes to the Father and says he wants his inheritance. Which in this day and age was equivalent of telling your Father “I wish you were dead.”
The Father surprisingly gives the younger brother the inheritance and the younger brother goes out and spends it all on “wild living.” Gets trashed, buys prostitutes. And then after a while. The money is gone. He is left with nothing and nobody. He eventually gets so hungry he eats out of the pig pen. After hitting rock bottom he realizes that maybe he can work his way back to his father. So he goes home to be a servant among his family. And while this younger brother is still a long way off, the Father comes running after him. He hugs the son and tells his servants to kill the fatten calf, get the nicest robe and rings, because the Father is throwing this son a HUGE party.
Upon learning this the older brother coming out of the work fields asks the meaning of all of this celebration. When he is told it is for his wild younger brother the older brother approaches the Father very angrily.
“Father I have always done what you ask! And I have never even gotten a small goat to celebrate with my friends.”
The Father replies “you are my son and everything I have is yours. But your brother was lost and is found again. He was dead and is now alive.”
This brother felt he was entitled to good things for his good behavior. That he deserved good. Which means he didn’t have the right heart to do the right things. He was doing these things for himself. God doesn’t want these things. God wants an older brother who expects nothing in return. Who does these good things because he loves his Father. Because it is an honor to do these things for his Father.
We as “Republican Christians” are forcing communities to be older brothers. Something maybe worse than the younger brother.
It’s not a real change.
It’s not a real conversion.
It’s not a real good deed that God wants.
It’s all meaningless.
As Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians:
13 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Rick Warren kinda stole my words a bit. But it’s okay I’m honored :). I say very often that the standard of love today is approval. That if I love someone I must approve of what they do. And that if I disagree with them I am being hateful and judgmental. Warren says it a bit better.
“Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear them or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.”
The other night during the DNC a woman brought up the verse in Matthew 25 about the “least of these”. ( The verse describes taking care of the poor to be equivalent of taking care of Jesus. It makes them one in the same.) She used this verse to describe Obama’s health care plan. But this was used in Older Brother context. You were making people do the right thing. God doesn’t want forced flowers so to speak. I was really upset with it. I was more upset to think about how if we as Christians did the things Christ asked of us we wouldn’t have to have this health care bill. If we took care of the orphans and the widows and the poor and loved our neighbors this wouldn’t even be a discussion.
My irritation towards forcing people to do these right things in the Health Care argument is what led to my thought on the ban of these political issues by way of our “Christian views.”
Now let me be very clear. I still disagree with them. I don’t agree with Same Sex Marriage and I don’t support it. And my belief towards it remains the same. I believe God is against all sin and I should be too.
But I also believe that love at it’s core is freedom. It means giving up the desire to manipulate the relationship.
God never wanted us to force these messages down people’s throats. In fact he said if people don’t accept my message. Take your sandal and bang the dust out of it as you leave the town as a testament to them. In other words if they don’t want the message. Move on. Leave it be. Peace out.
1 Corinthains 2:14-17
“14 But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. 15 For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 16 To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? 17 Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity,as those sent from God.”
Now I’m still at odds on this election. I wish I had more options because by my liking I would pick neither candidate. But whoever is chosen for the job I will pray for them to make strong choices. For God to lead them.
I’m tired of Christians turning people away from the faith by fighting over an issue by basically telling people they have to change before they can be saved. Before God will allow you to be “in”. That is salvation by works. And this is a lie.
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Come to Christ and be transformed. Become a new creation.
Love is freedom.
Love in Action
9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in love.Honor one another above yourselves. 11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
I apologize for things I have said in the past. While my belief on the sin stands. My view of this whole issue is new and really only just came to me so its a bit daring for me to put it down in writing. But it just makes so much sense when viewed with what I have believed towards relationships. I must encourage us to use our freedom wisely.
There was a tree in a garden that brought death. And man had the freedom to eat from it.
For there to truly be obedience there must be the choice to disobey.