I read something yesterday that D.L. Moody had stated in reply to friends who were encouraging him to speak out against the World Parliament of Religions that was to be part of the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. In difference to their suggestions he resolutely declared that “I am going to make Jesus Christ so attractive, that men will turn to Him.”* The Chicago Tribune declared that “D.L. Moody deserves to be remembered as the greatest evangelist of his day, perhaps the greatest since John Wesley.” And according to Pulpit Helps magazine “The climax of his epochal career came with the 1893 World’s Fair Campaign, one of the most outstanding evangelistic efforts ever.”**
That statement immediately forced me to think about why I have been finding myself increasingly uncomfortable with the way many Christians in the news have been declaring their Faith. It seems TO ME that many tend to criticize what they deem as wrong with another person’s beliefs and then declare how much God is opposed to their beliefs and/or lifestyle. I hate to say it… but no wonder the world quickly labels us as bigots, racists or insensitive!
Please understand that I do believe in the statement I hear in many Christian circles where we all stand around discussing the current state of world events and shake our heads in agreement that “God loves the sinner but hates the sin.” I think that Jesus would also nod His head in agreement to that Biblical truth. The difference is that I can’t find many… if any… places in the Word where Jesus actually said that, but instead lived it… meaning that He reached out to and loved on the sinners and demonstrated the goodness and grace of His Father to them instead of staying away and telling them from afar how wrong they were… and how God was going to punish them!
That thought opens up a whole can of worms when I think about the words that I speak and the actions I take to back up those words. I had to stop during my Bible study time this morning and ask myself if my words are what I do… or what I imagine that I do? I recently read something that was very sweet and sincere but made me chuckle because even though I chose to take the words as such… they were not an accurate picture of that individual’s past actions concerning the subject being discussed.
It also got me to consider if I tend to focus on what is right or on what is wrong with people and things. Do I tend to consider the grace of Papa God when I talk with people or what He and/or the Word may say is wrong with these people, places or things? I have learned A LOT about the love and grace of God over these past six or seven years while on this journey with Piper’s health and can honestly say that I am learning to lean toward His grace and love… but looking back, I can’t honestly say that was always the case!
As I was getting up from my desk this morning, I glanced over at another picture I had come across of my wife and our first son who was about one or two years old at the time. He just celebrated his 36th birthday, so you can see how old the picture is! But as I looked upon the faces of my young smiling wife and the silly look on Josh’s face, I had to comment to myself that I have always seen the best in them.
That picture made me remember all the times my wife and I walked hand in hand around that old neighborhood where my Grandmother had lived since the early 1950’s. Somewhere, sometime during the early days of our relationship we had decided to always be encouraging, helpful and positive when talking to and about each other. And we have stuck to that promise for over 45 years. I wish I had known to make that commitment when it came to others close to me and those I come in contact with in my daily life.
But now I know, and now I am trying to assure that my words and my actions agree in that process. After all, it is what Jesus did! What do you think? Are your words and actions in agreement with loving on others and striving to see the best in them? When you live and share your faith, do you major in His grace or on the people’s wrongs? Are you making Jesus Christ so attractive that those around you want to turn to Him?
Have a great weekend! Fill up on His grace and love and then spill it all over everyone you come into contact with! And in the process… keep asking yourself… “Is my life and my expectations a living, breathing demonstration of His Grace?”
*Be Complete Commentary on the book of Colossians by Dr. Warren Wiersbe – chap 4