Friday, 23 January 2015

Where art thou, O City on a Hill?

This week was pretty exciting! On behalf of the Christian Union, my friend and I debated the Atheist, Secularist and Humanist society on 'Is Christianity a force for good in the world?'. It was a great opportunity to share the Gospel. Soon afterwards, I was made aware of a public survey that stated that only 2 in 5 people believed Christianity was a force for good in the world. To say I was sad, would be an understatement, but it did get me thinking, a lot!

Christianity is about God's love, mercy, forgiveness, grace, hope, redemption and reconciliation - when the world is well aware of the doctrine, why do they dismiss it? I'm afraid we are to blame! At the debate, the opposition's arguments were primarily centred on Christians, who in my opinion were not very Christian. Christianity is a term that describes the teachings of Jesus Christ, but the world can only acknowledge these teachings if we, who wear the name tag, 'Christian', practise it. They have a point! After all, they are judging us by our fruits...which are evidently not very alluring!

Recently God's been emphasising the importance of genuine, deep love. From a friend's brilliant article, 'Outrageous Love' to passages from the New Testament as part of the 21 Day Challenge, everywhere I turn I am challenged to love like Jesus did...but what does that look like? Prayerfully consider the verses below:

Luke 3:8 - Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.
 
Mark 12:30-31 - "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." The second is this: "Love your neighbour as yourself". There is no commandment greater than these.
 
Isaiah 29:13 - "These people honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teaching are merely human rules."
 
Matthew 23 - '...you have neglected the more important matters of the law - justice, mercy and faithfulness...you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.'
 
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 - Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonour others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
 
1 John 4:8 - Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

The early church didn't care about the legalities or get caught up in trying to sway the government. It flourished in one of the most ungodly empires because it stood out! The world no longer sees people living out the Gospel they preach. They see people who cry out, 'I've been changed' but live lives pretty much like everyone else. They see people who rant about the love of God but seldom express it. They see disputed people, caught up in controversies and arguments on what's right and what's wrong, public slurs and hateful judgements. Is that what Jesus died for? Is that what Jesus meant when He asked us to be salt and light?

Church, the world has cried out, 'we don't see it'! It is our duty to accept the challenge! Let us refuse to pass judgement. Let us channel the grace and mercy shown to us. Let us be people who make the lives of those around us that little bit bearable. Instead of making a public spectacle of the divisions between us, let us focus on being the Gospel. Let us live like Jesus - focused on pleasing God, loving deeply and opening our hearts to the sinner - let God transform them.

Jesus said, 'a city on a hill cannot be hidden' - let us be that city by loving outrageously, pursuing holiness, serving faithfully and believing passionately! If we did all that, who wouldn't see us?

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