Well, about that e-card...

(I'm probably going to lose some of you with this one.  My first inclination is to lead off with "I'm sorry," but I'm learning that's not always appropriate.  At any rate, carry on.)

I spend entirely too much time on social media, I confess. It's not good for me. I realize this. However, in an effort to justify my behavior (don't scoff, we all do it), I feel like this is one small corner of my ministry as a stay-at-home mom.

Probably a few months ago now, this popped up in my newsfeed.


I read it a few times to make sure I wasn't making a mountain out of a mole hill, but it didn't sit right with me.  I texted a friend to bounce my crazies off of her.  I called my dad and told him about it.  I thought about it some more.  

It still doesn't sit right with me.

Surely, the creator of this clever e-card intended this message for the Pharisees; the legalistic, holier-than-thou types who condemn everyone short of perfection without so much as a nod toward grace.  

But...what if they didn't?  What if there is something a little more subtle, but oh-so-off-track about this seemingly innocuous e-card?  

Subtlety is one of Satan's specialties.  I bet he is eating this thing right up.

Remember Genesis 3?  The serpent didn't tell Eve to taste the fruit.  He merely suggested that what God had told her was surely not right.  
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
You see, all it takes is a little seed of doubt to cause us to stray from what God's words clearly tell us.  

So what's this have to do with the e-card?  I am so glad you asked.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'  (Matthew 22: 36-39)
We are commanded to love God and love others. 

Well, let's tackle the second part first.  How do I love others (aka "treat people")?
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?"  Matthew 5:43-47
Loving others with Christian love should look different from the world's perspective.  We are ambassadors of Christ.  We are called to love those who are unlovely, hateful, different, frightening, cold-hearted, uncomfortable.  This kind of love is a gift from God, shining through us.  This is what should be setting Christians apart from the world.  There are a million plus one ways to show love - here are ten:

1.  Pray for the person in your life who most causes your blood pressure to skyrocket.
2.  Buy a homeless woman a meal and a cold (non-alcoholic) beverage (because this is Georgia and I'm sure she's hot).
3.  Give someone your jacket on a cold day.
4.  Smile.  All the time.  At anyone and everyone.  People will think you're crazy, but that's okay.  You will stand out.
5.  Hold the door for the sketchy dude behind you.
6.  Help someone with 19 kids push their groceries to the car.
7.  When something you want is 50% off, buy two and donate one.
8.  Make and deliver cookies to a neighbor you've never met.  Wait...you have neighbors you've never met?  Shame on you! ;)
9.  Exhibit grace.  A good way to do this is to take your four kids grocery shopping.  Guarantee an opportunity will arise at some point during the trip.
10.  Take your kids to a nursing home and just hang out with old people.  Some of them will be grumpy, but so many of them will delight in you.

Alright, so let's get to the first part...the Love God part.  That one can be a little harder to wrap our finite brains around.  You see, I can say, "I love God!" all day long, but that doesn't make it true.  So, what does?  How do I love God?  How can I know how to love God?

Ahhhh, see, that's where those pesky Bible verses come into play.  

I sincerely doubt that there's a chalkboard with tally marks beside the names of scripture memorizers.  That's not what this is about.

Let's back up...what does God want from us?  Relationship (aka "love").
I love those who love me, And those who seek me diligently will find me. Proverbs 8:17
How do I seek God diligently?  This psalmist had a pretty good idea...
I seek you with all my heart;
    do not let me stray from your commands.
I have hidden your word in my heart
    that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:10-11
Hidden your word in my heart.  Boom.  How do we do that?  We read it.  And we commit to learning it.  Dare I say memorize it?  We spend time in the word.  We need to know what it says!

We are engaged in spiritual warfare.  Daily.  As mere humans, we have no idea what is going on in the heavenlies right over top of our heads between the angels and princes of darkness, and yet we do catch glimpses of what it is like to combat those who would persecute Christ and his followers.  When we are questioned about our faith, do we know what to say?  What we believe?  Why we believe?  What sets us apart?  We're supposed to!
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.  1 Peter 3:15-16
God's Word is our weapon.  It is our sword in the battle against principalities.  It is part of the full armor of God.  We cannot be equipped with God's Word if we do not know it.
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.  Hebrews 4:12
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.  Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,  and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.  In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.  Ephesians 6:10-17
Christians, I implore you.  Spend time in God's word.  Know what it says so that you can be prepared, always, to give an answer.  Hide these words in your heart.  Memorize them.  Jesus cares about how you treat people, but he also cares about how you treat Him.  He wants you to know Him and in seeking Him, you won't be able to help but love Him.

Then Jesus said to them, "If it makes you happy, it can't be that bad."  Oh no.  Wait.  That was Sheryl Crow.  That's actually not in the Bible.  Anywhere.  We just want it to be.  See, I think we ought to find out for sure instead of pretending we know.

Let God's word show us how to love Him and love others.  It's all in there.  You should totally check it out.

Thy word is lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.  Psalm 119:105


Sharon said...

You came nowhere near to losing me on this one! And, I think you should consider preaching on Sundays in addition to that home-schooling that you do.

Jennie, what a heartfelt message - and one that our hearts need to hear. Yes, we should treat the Word of God with awe. We are so blessed to have it, and to be able to read it freely. But, it doesn't do much good if it's sitting on the shelf gathering dust.

It needs to get into our hearts - deeply.

"Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do." (Joshua 1:8, NLT)



Debbie said...

If I got on my soapbox on this one, I would stay there so long that the box would break.

The little e-card troubled me from the first glance.

I have so much to say in appreciation for this post (and of course in addition because of that ever-present opinion of mine.)

If you only knew how many mornings, the husband and I have sat in our prayer chairs at this place and pleaded with God to open up the eyes around us to the need and love of scripture to guide the lives.

I just wrote a novel and deleted it. This topic is the number one reason that we want to leave our church. Trouble is, we don't know where to go. We are tired of the dismissal of the Word of God from the top to the bottom.

Said too much?

Post a Comment

Before you go, I'd love to hear from you! Let me know what's on your mind! (Please and thank you.)

Back to Top