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In this chapter we examine the importance of love, grace, and acceptance of others as a form of true worship.
love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
In the above verse, we first note that loving is an essential quality of God. After which, we see the importance of love and loving others as essential to building our relationship to God. Finally, we see that people who do not seek to love, both greatly and always, risk backsliding in their relationship with God. For this reason, the greatest fundamental to Christian practice is love and loving others.
Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye. Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Now, through the existence of God there certainly is absolute truth, a definitive moral code, and a correct way to live, the Bible is also highly expressive that our primary concern should be to try to identify these things for the sake of ourselves above all else. In this wisdom, it is then only as we perfect our understandings of these things we can truly help others come closer to understanding these truths as well. So then we may find that living scripture is the highest form of attempting to apply scripture to others lives. Conversely we may find that under no circumstance is it proper Christian practice to force our understanding on another. In this manner virtually all evangelizing is best to be done through simply being an example of the love Christ has shown us and trusting the Spirit to guide others to Him.
In committing ourselves to this worship, we should then be highly focused on the way God has treated us. Because of this, where all are only saved through grace and faith, we also then should see it as important for us to always focus on showing grace to others through faith. In such regard we must be diligent to never assume we have figured everything out or have somehow evolved beyond ourselves to express this obvious pretense. Naturally, where our focus is in Christ, our evangelism then should likewise be one of acceptance and tolerance with the appropriate sense of humility.
Nonetheless while we may seek to surround ourselves with those who have greater principles of faith, it is important for us to be inviting to all others in an effort to promote equality in Him and His will to love. Truly, as God has called us, we must put edifying the church and being a light to the world above our own life, as our Lord Jesus Christ did as well. As such, each of these only becomes possible as we reject being conformed to the image of man and accept our Spiritual identity as a Christian.
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Through love and grace it is ideal to be tolerant of others simply on the basis of beliefs and opinions. Perhaps a convicted Christian may feel strongly otherwise, but the reality is that none of us are perfect and consequently have no true absolute moral authority to impose our many different understandings of truth on another, unless one first does this to us first. Perhaps through absolute self-perfection we may have the right as with the Christ, but often times we simply jump to deride others for our own lack of perfection instead. So then, we must conversely channel our faith inwardly and strongly resist from ever judging others. While the Lord expects us to a certain style of life, He also expects us to love our brother and sister, our neighbor, our stranger, and even our enemy, bearing in mind how He has loved us always regardless of our own lack of worthiness as well.
For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Where we may perceive another’s errant choice, it’s best to first consider our own false perception, then, if we are genuinely without mistake, we should seek to show the truth the love and patience it affords. At the end of the day, our only responsibility is to live as the Lord tells us to live and to live accordingly. In doing so, we will ultimately be as a lighthouse of the truth and best allow the Lord to guide and correct the error in our and others hearts and actions. So forth, such practice must be patient and merciful, even if undeserving, as we all have also been undeserving of the patience and mercy the Lord has shown each and every one of us as well.
– Continue to Chapter 8 –
“Christian Ethos” © 2017 ML Ainsworth
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