I grew up in a ‘fire and brimstone” church; sombre, stern, legalistic. I was on a pre-destined road that most likely would lead me to a pit of hell-fire. Salvation was for the chosen of which there were very few. Every Sunday was a reminder that I was another day closer to burning for all eternity.
I never found comfort at church, just fear, fear of God, fear of dying, fear of burning forever. But then I discovered the song, Jesus Loves Me.
Jesus loves me this I know,
For the Bible tells me so,
Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak but He is strong,
Yes, Jesus loves me, yes, Jesus loves me, yes, Jesus loves me
The Bible tells me so!
My heart absorbed this message like a sponge. Jesus loved me, the girl walking the road that leads to hell. This simple, beautiful message reinforced by my kindergarten teacher just before Easter. My classmates and I sat in a circle while our teacher, Mrs. Roland, read us the story of Jesus, dying for us because He loved us! My eyes welled up and I quietly wiped my tears away. At the age of five, I already had several years of church doctrine under my belt, but I had never heard this message in church. This message of hope and love, so much love.
In Matthew 19:14, the Bible says,
But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven.
How does a child believe? They accept what they’re told without question; they simply believe. This is so different from adults who question and pick apart scripture turning the meaning, the message, into something more complicated. God builds up and we tear down.
In 2 Corinthians 12:9
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
The definition of Grace is:
- The free and unmerited favour of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessing
We have found favour with God, not because we deserve it but because He loves us. He loves us with all of our flaws. His message is simple, I love you, believe in me and you will have eternal life. But wait, is grace really enough for us?
We pick the scripture and our fellow Christians apart, creating chaos and strife where love and fellowship should be.
The Bible warns us in Matthew 7:2
For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured toyou again.
We all judge. I hate being judgemental, I know when I’m doing it and still I judge. Ironically, I judge writers who blog their judgement of others. I know I’m not alone but why I wonder, do we do this? We have enough flaws of our own to work on so why point out others?
I recently read a blog post about the pope promoting a false religion. Really? Is that what the pope is doing? I had the misguided idea that he was sincerely trying to do the work of God, you know, like the rest of us slogging through this life. We don’t know what is in the hearts of other people. Maybe we should be careful of whom we judge, for the one we judge could very well be our sister or brother in Christ.
Judgement, like hate, is a waste of energy, when we could be reaching out with God’s love. If we rewrote stories with love instead of judgement, how different our stories would be.
This Easter my focus is on God who loved me so much he sent His Son to die for me. Jesus who willingly suffered and died so I could live in the kingdom of heaven forever and ever.
God’s message is about love, pure and simple.