I'm over It: Exclusive Christianity
I love listening to podcasts! No seriously, I mean it! Every morning as a part of my commute, I pick a pastor and listen to their most recent sermon. It almost feels as if I have a church in the car each morning and I love it. I began doing this back in Septemeber of last year, and I have seen so much spiritual and emotional growth within myself that I know I'm not going to change this part of my daily routine. And...
if you follow my IG ( Instagram for sort) stories then you may be familiar with the pastor I'm about to blast (in a good way): Judah Smith. (Actually, I think this may be the second time I'm posting about something pastor Judah had to say.) Y'all, I wished I lived in Settle or Los Angeles (both for the coffee and the sun but let see what the Lord works out for me).
Just this past weekend, I was listening to a newly uploaded sermon by Church Home (pastor Judah's church) titled "Jesus Over Everything," and I loved it so much I had to blog about it!
Judah straight up hit so many notes that I've felt God has been reiterating in my daily devotional time that it felt like extreme déjà vu.
He spoke about something that I've been wrestling to talk about properly with y'all: exclusive Christianity.
Let me begin by saying, more than once have I rejected being called a Christian. (Shocker! I know, I'm shook I'm even sharing this with y'all.) No, it's not because I'm rejecting Jesus or my brothers and sisters.(Get out of the debating mentality.) It's because of both the original meaning of Christianity and how I've seen those who claim my Savior treat those who are believers and those who aren't.
See, I detest (passionately) anytime that any person claims to follow Christ and His ways yet treat people less than Christ would. (Oh, I'm about to go there.) I'm (for lack of professionalism and words that are currently escaping my thinking) appalled that some of us would rather bicker with other believers and disallow both believers and nonbelievers to fellowship with us because of religion, rules, and man-made boundaries that contradict the lifestyle and teaching of Christ.
I mean look at the life Jesus lived. He was selfless in every way possible. Jesus chooses to lay down his life not just on the cross but in his acts leading up to it and afterward. The man wandered from place to place giving back in every way, and despite being rejected and killed, he chooses to continue loving and pouring back into everyone. (Read your Bible people!)
How is judging someone's faith and their relationship with Christ being Christ-like when Jesus didn't even do that? How are we living like Christ when we take offense because someone decided to act upon what God had spoken to them? Are we mirroring our very Savior when we tell other believers and those seeking sanctuary that because they haven't gone through certain religious practices that they cannot communion with us? (Jesus let Judah have fellowship with him! His own betrayer?!)
I call...hypocrisy. (Don't get me wrong, I've had my share of this too, so we are all getting chewed out today!)
Let me be extra honest with you:
Stop playing Jesus and start listening to Him.
If you judge someone's faith because it doesn't match up with you, you're not representing the Jesus I've read about.
If you say that someone is less of a Christian because they're not of your denomination or practice their faith differently, I don't see my Savior in you.
If you tell me that those who have committed certain sins need to make sacrifices of any kind, I will tell you that my Father is being misrepresented in your practice.
Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us. If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God must love his brother also.'
- I John 4:17-21 NKJV
Judah said something that really hit me hard: the religious practices and rules that man has placed on how to be Christ-like has developed a sense of anxiety, depression, and resentment towards and in our faith-based lifestyle.
I find more people (both claiming Christianity and rejecting it ) that believe that because of religious laws and practices, they cannot connect with Christ. Enough is enough!
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.” Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness. or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. '
- Romans 12:1-21 NKJV
Jesus loves all of us, and he accepts everyone! No ifs, ands, or buts about it! From the person who has a lifetime in prison to the newest baby on Earth, Jesus sees us all the same, and he loves each person. He didn't ask us to be the gatekeepers for his kingdom but to live and love the way he did. The Lord doesn't need a mouthpiece that makes people feel worse and condemns everyone that doesn't look and sound like us. He wants faithful children who are willing to run to him, walk with him, and love like him.
Christianity isn't exclusive. No, my brothers and sisters. Our faith-based lifestyle is meant to be the most inclusive thing life has to offer.
We love because he first loved. We accept because though we don't deserve it, he accepts us. We live because he dies for us. It's grace and love, not laws and religion.
Until next time...