Thursday, August 11, 2016


You are worthy of love. 

Every human being is worthy of God's love and the love of His people.  Every human being is born with intrinsic value given to them by God.  One does not need to "qualify" for this love because each person on the earth is already qualified because we are all born with a God identity and purpose inside of us.  That identity and purpose is found when we find true love. True love is found in the love that comes from God; it is unconditional acceptance and unconditional love.

This God-kind of love is called "agapÄ“" love in the Greek. This is a love without conditions.  It is the kind of love that Jesus ministered to people while living on the earth, and it is the love that He showed by going to the cross.

It is the kind of love that Jesus conveyed in John chapter eight, when He spoke to the woman that was "…caught in the very act…" of adultery (the accusation of sin doesn't get much more specific than that). 

Question: Was Jesus offended by her sin?  Did He tell her she needed to get her life right and then He would show her love or mercy?  Did He tell her that she was on her way to hell if she didn't repent?  Did He do anything else but love her and help her?  Even his admonition to her to go and sin no more was an expression of His love.  He was expressing that her true self, her God-given identity was not found by continuing in sin, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more." John 8:11

When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well in John chapter four, He had a simple conversation with her about water which led Him to reveal who He was to her.  In the context of the conversation He speaks out a word of knowledge telling her that she had five husbands and was living with a man who was not her husband.  Did He condemn her?  Did she feel condemned?  No, in fact, He gives her a revelation that He had never spoken to anyone before- "God is a spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth."  And then He plainly tells her that He is the Messiah. 

She then goes into the city and tells the men to come and meet Jesus. The bible says that many of the people believed in Him because of her words.  You could say that she was the first evangelist of Jesus!


What about Zacchaeus?  He was a notoriously rich chief tax collector (perhaps even a crook).  The people all complained that Jesus went to his house because they saw Zacchaeus as a big sinner (see Luke 19). When Jesus called him out of that tree and told him He was going to his house, did Jesus demand satisfaction and proof of repentance?  No in fact, Jesus went to his house first and then the man declared his contrition, “Master, I give away half my income to the poor—and if I’m caught cheating, I pay four times the damages.”

Jesus was almost constantly accused by the very pious and religious people of his day that He was a friend of sinners.

Immediately after He called him to follow Him, Levi (Matthew) threw a big party for Jesus.  "Then Levi gave Him a great feast in his own house. And there were a great number of tax collectors and others who sat down with them.  And their scribes and the Pharisees complained against His disciples, saying, 'Why do You eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?'  Jesus answered and said to them, 'Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.'”  Luke 5:29-32

It seemed the religious leaders went and stood outside of the party simply to accuse Jesus.  Jesus went to Matthew's house because He was invited, and while He was there, He expressed God's love to the people. 

Jesus was so full of love that He spent time with people that no one else wanted to be around.  But masses were drawn to Him because of His love.  They did not always follow Him just because He fed them.  It was not only because they were healed of their diseases.  People were drawn to Jesus and felt at ease with Him because He did not judge them.  Rather, He loved them.

The love of God was so powerful in Jesus that He could speak truth to a person (even revealing their sin), and never make them feel condemned or rejected by God.  Author Wayne Jacobs in "Jake's Story" (AKA – "So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore") says it like this:

“I’m not talking about namby-pamby sentimentalism either.  He loved, really loved. It didn’t matter if you were Pharisee or prostitute, disciple or blind beggar, Jew, Samaritan or Gentile.  His love held itself out for any to embrace.   Most did, too, when they saw Him. Though so few ended up following Him, for the few moments His presence passed by them, they tasted a freshness and power they could never deny even years later.   Somehow He seemed to know everything about them, but loved them deeply all the same. ”

Powerful thought isn't it?  To have someone love you so much that even on your worst day in the depths of the most horrible sin you can imagine, you never felt condemned!  That is the kind of love that every human being is searching for.  Jesus spoke John 3:16 and most of us can quote it well, but He also spoke John 3:17, which declares that God did not send Him into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world.  Jesus came to seek and save the lost.

We in the church have often heard the saying we have to love the sinner, but hate the sin.  Perhaps, if we were honest with ourselves, we would recognize that have done a bang up job of hating sin, but not a great job of loving the sinner.  Loving people whose sin offends us is difficult.  But as followers of Jesus, that is what we are called to do. 

As followers of Jesus, we have not always expressed God's agapÄ“ love.  We more than often have expressed our disapproval and even our offense at people.  We call for protests on companies who express what we consider non-Christian values, we gnash our teeth and stomp our feet when government does not comply with our worldview. 

We become offended due to someone's sinful lifestyle, or because people believe differently than we do, but it is very difficult to love people when you are offended by them.  Way too often, we as the church have harbored offenses in our hearts against people that God really, really loves!  When we are offended by someone, we will not love them the way that Jesus loves them.  By the way, as followers of Jesus, do we even have a right to become offended at people?  I dare say not!

We become easily offended by someone else's sin as we too easily forget that we were cleansed from our sins.  I've said this before, but we tend to excuse ourselves as we accuse others.  We judge people by what they say and do, and judge ourselves by our good intentions!

As an experiment, think of the latest news you have heard about someone famous.  Perhaps it was a politician, an athlete, singer or an actor.  Was your reaction to that news report loving toward the person or judgmental?  Were you offended by their behavior or their words?  Maybe they were arrested for drug possession; maybe they left their spouse for someone else.  Maybe they left the church, and are now living less than God's best for them.  Maybe that person believes they are in the wrong body, or they want to love someone in their same gender.  Can we love them or just be offended by them?

Again, sin is not justified, but I am not talking about right or wrong.  I'm talking about love, not morality.  They are two very different things.  Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary defines morality as, "Beliefs about what is right behavior and what is wrong behavior; and the degree to which something is right and good: the moral goodness or badness of something."  Morality is not love. 

Sin is never a good choice, it is never to be promoted or blessed.  Sin is evil and will lead people into destroyed lives.  But unless we share the love of God with people without condemnation, judgment or offense, how will they know about the One who loves them, gave His life for them, and has a life for them free from the bondage of sin?  Sin is never right, but is sin really the issue?  Jesus died for the sins of the whole world.  Was His sacrifice enough for us to lay down our offenses and love people?

If you saw a young woman trapped in her car in the middle of a flood, you would do everything you could to save her life. You wouldn't first ask her if she agreed with your morals, and you certainly would not try to convince her that she shouldn't have driven into the flood.  You would do absolutely everything in your power to save her.  Why?  You would save her because she is a human being.  She has incredible God-given value.  Isn't it the same principle when it comes to loving people? 

The bible says in Romans 2:4 it is the goodness of God that leads people to repentance.  We don't need to convince people that they are sinners; we need to convince them that they are loved.  God's love transforms people's lives, and every person is worth of love. 

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