Events that have taken place in the last few days have me shaking my head and have left me broken hearted. I can only imagine how the Lord sees such a senseless loss of life in the name of religion. As a follower of Jesus Christ, I try my best to love people, all people. I love the people that do not agree with me. I love the people who live lives that are completely different than mine. I love people that do not know the Lord, nor have any desire to know the Lord. I love people this way because I follow Jesus Christ and the Bible.
As a Christian, I am a student of the Bible, but more importantly, I am a student of Jesus Christ. Some use the term disciple, and I gladly take that label. I have spent quite a bit of time reading the Bible and studying the life of Christ. I enjoy studying Jesus' interactions with people, all people. Jesus is the most patient person to ever walk the earth. His patience for people and their condition, wherever they find themselves, is utterly amazing. He is so loving and patient with the Samaritan woman at the well who was living in sin. He was patient with the blind man who yelled out to Him for healing even though the disciples told the man to be quiet. He was even patient with the religious leaders of the day. If there was anyone who He had the right to be upset with, it was the Pharisees and Sadducees, but he wasn't. He loved them and showed them grace and mercy.
We often pray for peace in the world. It amazes me the people who say they are praying for peace one moment, and the next moment they are ranting and raving about some other religious group and how extreme they are, and how we should wipe them out. Ridiculous! Don’t get me wrong, crimes need to be addressed and heinous crimes against individuals and groups need to be brought to swift and appropriate justice. I also am a firm believer that the one and only path to God is through His son, Jesus Christ.
The only way we will see livable peace in the world is by practicing peace. Yes, I said practicing peace. In other words, we need to be turning the other cheek much more often and respecting people and the differences we have. There are people in your life that hold different beliefs than you do. Deal with it! People are different. We all hold our beliefs dear, but our beliefs should not be a stumbling block to relationships with others and mutual respect.
Along with practicing peace we need to practice mutual respect. We don’t have to agree with everyone, however we need to understand that everyone has a right to their beliefs and perspective. It is not my job to convince people for the cause of Christ. That sounds funny coming from a minister doesn't it? It's true, though. Jesus has asked me and you and every other Christian to be a witness for Him and His gospel. It is the job of the Holy Spirit to convince. We just need to be ready to answer questions and live lives that are pleasing to God.
Think about it. We quote John 3:16 all the time. If God loves the world so much that He sacrificed His son, shouldn't we? I think we need to spend just as much time on John 3:17. We need to stop condemning people and start loving and respecting them. You can try and understand someone else's perspective without agreeing with it. I try to always see things as other people see them. I don’t always agree with the viewpoint, but it does help me understand and love that person all the more.
Let's show some love to others. Let's show some mutual respect for one another. In doing this, we will be a great witness for Jesus, and we can perpetuate a little love and peace instead of hate and violence.