Hate or Love?

Romans 6:12 – end. Matthew 10:40 – end
Your reward will be in heaven!  The wages of sin is death!
Listen along!

These are the phrases often used on placards by people shouting the gospel on street corners.  They shout all sorts things like Repent, Jesus loves you etc, words that the average Joe on the street would have no clue, no understanding about.  When I see them, I wonder… what sort of message are they really giving?  What are people really hearing?  It’s certainly not the unconditional love of God.  What their hearing and so believing, wrongly, is that Christians are programmed to be intolerant, programmed to attack others who are different to them, who don’t follow Christ and therefore are in sin.  Is this what we are called to do? Do we find ourselves programmed, conditioned to attack sin and let people know they are sinful and going to hell?  Is this our mandate?

I really don’t think so and I hope you don’t think so either.  But sometimes, this is how the world views Christians.  Yet our mandate is to love unconditionally.  To offer a cup of water to the little ones, in other words to show love and care towards anyone who needs it.  But what if you see a person doing something that is harmful to themselves or others?  Shouldn’t we then point out their sin?  Certainly, there are times when this is appropriate but again this should be done with love, not hate.  Remember the phrase ‘Hate the sin, love the sinner’.  Sounds good, doesn’t it?! But really its again turning our eyes on hating others, on focusing on the bad rather than sorting our own problems with the help of God. So, wouldn’t it be better to say ‘Let you hate your sin and I’ll hate mine, and let’s love each other?  When we turn our eyes to the way of Jesus, the way of loving unconditionally, we become more open to liking the person, finding it easier to treat them as a friend rather than the enemy.  We realise they just sin differently to what we do.  Yes, we sin, me, you and everyone we meet, all in different ways.  Paul, in Romans, reminds us that although we may sin, we do not need to feel enslaved to sin.  That once a sin has been committed we are not doomed to continue down its path because we live under the grace of God.  God’s grace, his unconditional love, continually draws us back to himself, continually offering his forgiveness and his hand to welcome us back on track.  How can we not respond to God’s grace but with faithful obedience and discipleship?

In Matthew, Jesus speaks about assurance of God’s faithfulness to those who carry out Christ’s mission in the world.  Our reward for our discipleship is the promise of eternal life and freedom from sin.  God’s reward is very different from the world standard’s.  Our reward is not in material wealth or status which is how our world measures how success.  No, what God offers is far more substantial and enduring.  As we actively acknowledge God’s presence in our lives we begin to lean more and more upon God’s strength and grace.  We enter whole hearted into living in the way of Christ, welcoming the unwelcomeable, the unwanted and unloved.  Of loving unconditionally just as Jesus did.  We do this not because we are rewarded or because we want to earn our way into heaven (as if that was even possibly!) but simply because this is how Jesus lived.  Our reward is a gift, a gift of grace, not earned or striven for but simply freely given, with love, as our sin has been paid for by Christ.

We are called to go out, to welcome people into the Kingdom of God, not by chastising their bad ways, their sin, but by following the way of Christ.  Through grace of God our own sins do not prevent us from walking with God and sharing His good news.  All we need to remember is to Love God, love others, love ourselves, unconditionally.  Then we will truly see God’s reward at work in our lives.


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