Wednesday, September 1, 2010


Many of us who consider ourselves followers of Jesus, spend most of our energy on our relationship with God. At least that is where we put most of our thought on the subject. Perhaps we don't have the relationship we would like to have with Jesus but we spend a great deal of time thinking we would like to. We do not invest a lot of time in the other part of the Kingdom, which is others. Just a recap, the Kingdom is all about our relationship with God and our relationship with other people. Those are suppose to be the top priorities in our lives. There are some people who are very good at investing their times in the lives of other people but most Christians have a "keep to themselves" attitude.

This is something we need to invest in more because we know what Jesus taught as the two greatest commandments. These are Kingdom rules. We see Jesus demonstrate this with his own life. John spent a great deal of his first letter explaining just how important it was to express God's love by loving our brothers and sisters. Paul taught how this love expresses itself in our attitude:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4) 

In this area of relationship with "others" there is one thing in particular that seems to be intolerable to Jesus as he expresses it in Matthew 7:

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7:1-2)

This teaching from Jesus comes up in various forms throughout the gospels. One is with the parable about the ruler who forgave a servant a great debt but then how that servant turned around and prosecuted a fellow servant for a much smaller debt. In turn the ruler judged this man by his own judgment. As followers of Jesus we need to be very careful about our attitude toward other people. When Jesus is able to cry our for forgiveness as he was nailed to the cross, why do we feel we have a right to hate, fear, treat differently those who do not see life as we see it?

We need to start connecting the dots with all the teachings Jesus gave us. See the connection between "not judging", "loving our neighbour as ourselves", and "loving our enemy". We are to witness to them the love of God and his great forgiveness and to love those who do not understand this is going to cost us something. Jesus hung out with the worse people in his society to demonstrate that love, that acceptance, that concern, and attention that the Father lavishes on all of us. We need to "take a pill", relax and realize that we are in the rescue business because our Father has called us into it and then stop killing those who the Father wants to save. I am not talking "arm distant" relationship here. I am referring to the up close and personal relationships, the kind where we are real with people and invite them into our lives. We don't laugh at their "dirty" jokes and we don't participate in their sin but we remain in the gutter with them so when the opportunity is given to rescue them we can take it.

There is one sure way of being able to do this: realize that you are no different, except for the blood of Jesus.

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)

There is that balance again between our relationship with God and our relationship with others. Let's be sure we have taken care of all our own sins before we start in on someone's else. The fact is that unless we see ourselves equal to the unsaved we will always have an attitude problem. We did not save ourselves, Jesus had to do that. We are no better than anyone else in this world according to the law because we have all sinned and all deserve death. The only difference is that we have recognized our condition and accepted the free gift of salvation from Jesus. If it is all that important to us then it should be important enough for us to share with others by constantly forgiving them for anything they may do to us, regardless of who they are and what they have done.

Until we start seeing things as God sees them, we will continue to have an attitude problem with other people. Our attitude should be one of love, forgiveness, taking no offense, involvement without judgment, inviting, kindness and the realization that the Father loves them as much as he loves us. I think our Dad is rather desperate for us to "make friends" before time runs out. He wants us to be busy with his work and his work is "others".

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