What would happen if we spent less time arguing with people over our theologies and more time learning to love ourselves, others and God??
Yesterday I had the privilege of teaching a theology masters level class about prayer, deliverance and identity. Well... it started with identity and ended up talking about dreams, prayer and deliverance 😂😂 These topics usually bring up many questions and it happened this time too. As I sat and listened to them, I could hear the desire each one had to understand these simple principles. These things that Jesus would teach his disciples in living a life of purpose and freedom. Through their questions I could hear how religion and conflicting theologies muddied the waters of understanding, and it made me wonder... Is this why people often get confused when they come into a church?!? We tell people that they're loved and accepted, but at the same time we give them a rule book that no one has been able to keep...
As a child I was taught to invite Jesus into my heart, but as a bible reading adult I've discovered he's always been there. In fact, it tells me that there is no place he cannot be. So why was I asking for something I already had?!? As a teenager I learned that sin separated me from God, but as a bible reading adult I discovered nothing separates me from His love?!? So which way is it? Why have I been led to believe things that are not even in the bible?
Jesus entered a world that was completely bound by religion and controlled by the Roman Empire. Yet he still found a way to confound them both. He didn't operate like either of them expected. From the way that I read the gospels, I know that he didn't do that through force of arms. Nor did he do it through the debate of religion... He simply did it by living his life in a way where love seemed to be the very thing he did well.
There were times when the religious leaders attempted to engage (or trap) him with their theologies. But each time Jesus turned the conversation into a place where identity and love were the heart of what he was doing. Jesus, the one who is love, is the one who spoke love even when those speaking to him were speaking a language of destruction. His whole life was one massive example of how powerful love is.
So here's a few thoughts on the way Jesus loved...
In loving himself well, he modelled what it looked like to know who he was and the limitations that his own humanity brought to him. He lived from and prioritised rest and he knew the power of being present in his own body. He shared what he had and he gave advice that flowed through the knowledge of who he is.
In loving others well, he looked beneath the surface of what was going on in front of him. He asked questions of those who came to him, so that he could understand their situation. He helped them discover who they were and for what purpose that they had been made.
In loving the Father well, he would refer always to what he saw and heard from his Father. He would make time to meet with Him and allowed us all to see how that looked and how we could likewise do it. He trusted his Father and allowed his will to align with his Father's will. He knew the security the Father's presence brought to his life.
He, and we, are designed to do these things naturally. When he did, some of the religious leaders and the Romans came to him, and were changed by His love. People from all over the world were drawn to him. His words and his ability to see deeply into them, transformed their lives and their belief systems. Belief systems that were generationally held for 100's of years were laid down and the love of God was picked up. The bible even says that Jesus turned the world upside down!
So what would it look like to lay down our arguments about our theologies and allow a love to leak into our relationships and our world? Could it be that church would soon become no longer confusing to people, but rather a place where love healed, restored, reconciled and grew?
Grace and peace,