Monday, July 27, 2015

Convincing arguments

One of my kids recently asked me what she could say to convince someone who doesn't believe in God to start believing.

I told her the truth: Nothing. 

Your words alone won't convince anyone of anything. Your actions are what make an impact. Your words will plant seeds, but for someone to change the way they believe they have to look at your life and say:

I want to live like that.
I want to have that kind of peace.
I want the joy that you have.

That's why it's important to remember that making dumb choices after you are saved is not going to keep you from Heaven... but it isn't going to get your friends there either.

Simple and too the point. You are always leading by example, even when you don't think you are the leader. People will know your heart by your actions. Whether they see Jesus in those actions or not is up to you.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, 
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23 NLT
A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.
Matthew 7:18 NLT

Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.
John 13:35 NLT

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Best drive ever

My oldest daughter and I were driving this morning when the subject of grace and forgiveness came up. I mentioned how it bothers me when people say one must confess their sins and ask for forgiveness to be forgiven for something. It's a common teaching, but not Biblical under the New Covenant. Jesus himself didn't require it in the Bible.

She admitted she's still trying to wrap her brain around that one because that's what we've heard for so many years. Then she went into a story about how scary it was, years ago during a youth group sermon (at a previous church) when the teacher told them all that harboring unforgiveness would keep them from Heaven... whether they were Christians or not.

I was horrified. "They actually said that? You know now that it isn't true, right?"

She said yes, but didn't seem convinced.

"You are thinking about the verse where Jesus says,

If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.
But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Matthew 6:14-15 

She was.

I explained to her that things in the Bible have to be read in context. Jesus was preaching the law to people who followed the law... that's what he did. He wasn't giving that command to us who are no longer under the law.

Then I stopped and came at it from a different direction. "If unforgiveness is a sin and God won't forgive us for harboring it, then God himself is sinning by harboring unforgiveness toward us... right? Can God sin?"

Relief swept over me as I saw the light bulb come on for her. She said, "Talking to you about this stuff makes me a lot less terrified."

My breath caught in my throat. Terrified. Her word. I almost cried.

She's right. Reading that verse as a command to us today IS TERRIFYING. Why would a God who loves us so much that He sent His son to die for us want us to walk around in fear that we might not be getting it right?

He doesn't.

Jesus came so that we could have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10) He did not come so that we could sit around miserable, picking apart our every move and motive, wondering if we were going to make it in, wondering if we were being good enough.

We don't have to wonder. Here's the answer to that question... We aren't. We aren't good enough to get in. We can't do enough right things. We can't live sinless lives. We are not good enough.... except for one thing... GRACE.

Not grace plus good behavior.

Not grace plus forgiveness to others.

Not grace plus serving at church.

It was already given to us.

Nothing we can do changes that.

You know what that is to me? Good News.

After this conversation with my daughter, she told me that out of the friends she had been hanging out with the day before, she was the only one who can say her mom is also her friend.

Best drive to work ever.

 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: 
Believe in the one he has sent.” 
~John 6:29 NLT