The False Narrative

“This is what I believe, but it’s okay if you don’t believe it.”

Christian friend, if this has become your rallying cry. If this is what you use to support things you know are against the Bible. If this is how you protect yourself from ridicule or persecution. Let me ask you a question:

Is it really okay? Because if you think it is, I have another question:

Did Jesus not die for anyone other than you?

After all, isn’t that the message you’re sending? The false narrative that no one has to believe in the same Jesus you believe in. That what works for you may not work for everyone. And I am not talking about non-salvation stuff here…I am talking about the ONLY thing that matters when it comes to faith.

Do you buy into the mantra that “we” shouldn’t “force” our beliefs on “them.” I know that’s a lot of quotation marks, but they’re all important.

Because when we draw a line in the sand and don’t invite others over, we are helping to keep them away from Jesus.

Jesus didn’t leave anyone the way He found them. He met their physical needs, but most importantly He met their spiritual needs. He didn’t say, “Well, I came to save the world, but if you don’t believe in me…it’s okay.” NO! He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. NO ONE can come to the Father except through me.”

Jesus came to save us all. His message is the most inclusive one of all. It doesn’t have to be forced on anyone.

And while Jesus is the ultimate grace giver, he is not the God of anything goes.

He was a humble servant, a lover of all people, a sin forgiver, AND a truth teller. His word makes it clear what it takes to be saved…what it takes to spend an eternity with Him. We are not doing anyone any favors by pretending it’s okay if they don’t believe.

Christian friend, don’t be okay with the false narrative being forced upon you by our culture and society. While we aren’t responsible for people, we are responsible to people. We can’t force anyone into believing. We can’t strong arm anyone into believing. We can’t debate anyone into believing.

And we certainly can’t hate anyone into believing.

But.

The attitude of our heart and the attitude of our behavior should be that it’s not okay if others don’t believe in Jesus. Because we love them too much. And it all hangs on this one command.

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Space and Grace

“You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

(2 Timothy 2:1)

 

In the 2nd letter written to Timothy, Paul offers some wonderful words of encouragement to Timothy. He starts by reminding Timothy to remain steadfast and focused on the grace that comes from Jesus. I think these words from Paul can be an encouragement to us all. Here’s why:

 

Have you ever gone through a difficult time in your life? Yes, that is a rhetorical question because I already know the answer. We have all gone through trials. Ok, so, let me ask you another question. One only you can answer. How do you treat yourself during those times? Have you ever considered offering yourself grace?

 

I have found that when I am struggling, while I strive to trust God wholeheartedly and have no negative thoughts or feelings as a result, that doesn’t always happen. Ok, it rarely happens. I also find that I tend to feel even worse about myself and my situation when I don’t trust God. So, while that clearly means I need to focus my attention more on Jesus (as Paul tells Timothy to do in the midst of persecution and suffering), it also means that I need grace. Grace towards myself that can only come because of what God has done for me through Christ. And because of the Lord’s grace, I can be strong even during the most difficult of storms.

 

In addition to grace, I also find that I need to give myself space. If I am having a tough time, I can’t expect to instantly feel better. Just like when you recover from an illness, you don’t typically go to bed really sick and wake up feeling 100%. Instead, it typically takes some time to recover. The fever goes down. The sneezing decreases. The appetite slowly returns. In the same way, while there are times when a huge weight is lifted off our shoulders and we breathe a huge sigh of relief, more often than not, it takes time to recover. From the loss and grief. From the frustration and fear. From the sadness and insecurity.

 

But. With space and grace, you can get through it. I can get through it. Only because of the grace that is in Christ Jesus that Paul was writing to Timothy about. A lesson for one that can be applied to all. Be strengthened, friend, through this grace.

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Grow Where You Are Planted: A Lesson From A Mustard Seed

After she poured a few mustards seeds on our table to illustrate just how small they really are, I carefully picked one up and placed it in the crease of my Bible near Matthew 17 where Jesus tells His disciples that if they had faith as small as a mustard seed, they could move mountains. I just loved this reminder because God has been revealing to my own heart a lesson that centers around faith and planting and growth.

 Grow Where You Are Planted. 

What’s interesting about the mustard seed, I came to learn, is that from one mustard seed can come thousands more. As I started searching for more information on this tiny seed, I found that mustard seeds flourish in cooler weather but require a lot of watering. I can’t help but think this also applies to me. Maybe it does to you as well.

You see, it can be difficult to trust God enough to let go and allow Him to use you wherever He has you during this season of your life. Perhaps “where” you are planted is not so much a place, but an experience. Maybe this is a cooler period of your life. A more difficult time. And I know we all need the watering that is necessary to stay strong and thrive despite the difficulty.

For me, I try to regularly remind myself that God has me in this exact place in my life at this exact point in time for a reason. And that I need to focus on growing exactly where I am planted, rather than wrestling with my creator, the one who planted me, to try and force a change. Even if I could uproot myself and re-plant somewhere else, would the environment be just right for growth? I doubt it. After all, the master gardener knows what He’s doing, and doesn’t need any help from me.

Faith as small as a mustard seed that once planted and watered grows and grows and grows. That’s what I want. To grow where I am planted.

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