“[God’s] acceptance of us is not so much unconditional – that may never motivate change – as it is gracious.”
Elizabeth Ingrig, Release Your Potential
Many well-meaning Christians attempt to encourage someone by saying “we are to love everyone; we don’t have to like them.” The biblical concept here is to love the sinner, hate the sin. But most of the time we don’t separate the sin from the sinner.
An author I recently read suggests there are only two categories of people: believers and non-believers. Theoretically, I agree. In reality, we are more likely to classify people by what they do. Without separating their actions from who they are, we categorize the person – not just their behavior - as good or bad.
In this scenario we elevate ourselves to judge, making our interpretation of good the standard. We give ourselves a pat on the back for loving someone that doesn’t deserve to be liked according to our standards or our prejudices. Sometimes, we even call it ministry.
I don’t think that is what Jesus had in mind when he said “love your neighbor.”
It is not unconditional love that draws one person to another. Would you be drawn to someone who said they loved you but didn’t want to be with you?
We all fall into the “bad” category according to God’s standards. Acknowledging our dependence on Christ doesn’t make us “good.” It means we confess that we are bad and Jesus is the only reason we can be in relationship with a truly good God.
God doesn’t say, “I love you but I’m going to stay away from you because I don’t like what you do.” He simply says “I love you. I forgive you. Now spend time with me and let me give you real life.”
God’s love is evident through grace. Christ didn’t instruct us to say the words “I love you.” He instructed us to love others, judging them in the same way we judge ourselves.
If God’s grace overflows through me, others will be drawn to him. They will since that I am no different than they are. The only difference may be that I am a believer and they are not. The believer lives for the sake of Christ. The non-believer lives for some other sake. Other than that we are all the same.
God came to earth as a baby to be with us as we are so that we could be with him as he intended.
Who is the difficult person in your life? Are you willing to let them see God’s grace in your life? Do you recognize that without Christ you fall into the same category as them?
Believers are not better than non-believers. We just had someone willing to throw us a life preserver and we humbled ourselves to grab onto Him instead of trying to swim to shore on our own.
“Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.” Titus 1:4