Dear children, let us stop just saying we love each other; let us really show it by our actions. 1 John 3:18 (NLT)
This week, I’ve seen a wonderful thing. I’ve witnessed a most uplifting outpouring of kindness as I watched people bring my sister and her son gifts, clothes and money to help them get through Christmas after having been burned out of their house by a fire on Monday night. It was touching to see so many people giving and giving to a person whom they didn’t know, a person who could have been any number of things besides just another human being who was suffering. No one asked her if she was a Christian, or if she believes in God, or if she attends a church in town. People really just wanted to help. I believe that this is what God intends. He wants us to help one another and he doesn’t want strings attached. It has always been my understanding that when you are trying to help someone, you are not focused on who they are or what they stand for. You are focused on helping them through whatever it is that they are going through and hoping that you have done all you can without making them feel obligated to do something in return.
So, it got me thinking. My sister was helped by a couple of churches and many, many, churchgoing folks. My sister does not currently go to church. In fact, she believes in some things that scare Christians. I also believe in some things that would scare Christians. But the bottom line is that we both believe in God and have faith that He is leading us on this journey and that whatever He wants to do in our lives is what we must accept and hold as right. We see God’s beauty in all things and understand that there is not just one right way to connect with Him. In fact, I feel that to believe that there is only one right way to speak to God is somewhat shortsighted and I’ll tell you why. There have been many times in my life when I know that God was right there with me. Many times when I couldn’t have been further from being a good Christian woman. I’m still working on being a good Christian woman, but I can look back and see that he pulled me through things that I never should have come through as a sinner who refused, not just put off going, but REFUSED to go to church. I know that there was a time in my life when I was so angry with Him that I worried I would never find my way back to Him. And, if it hadn’t been for a constant connection to him through meditation and through constantly looking for answers to the questions I had by exploring other religions and ways of worship, I would never have been able to set foot in a church again.
The point is that He was listening even though I wasn’t in church. He was listening even when I wasn’t sure if I was a Buddhist, a Wiccan, or a Baptist. He was listening and I’m still here, ready to do what I can to live His will for me.
As the pastor at one of the churches we attend now said at one of the sermons this month, you won’t get to heaven by simply going to church. You won’t get there by tithing, you won’t get there by doing the things you think are what good Christians are supposed to do. At least, you won’t get there by doing these things without having this one most important thing: love for God. If you don’t love God, no matter what form He takes in your life, you cannot get to heaven. If you don’t love God, you can’t do His work. You can go through the motions, but you’re really only doing these things for yourself and your own gratification. If He isn’t at the heart of everything you are doing, then it isn’t really for Him.
It’s been so hard for me to focus on writing and promoting my books these days because I’ve been trying to fix my own slanted perceptions of just exactly who I’m doing all of this for. If it isn’t for Him, then it isn’t worth the time. Yes, it is fun to write and yes, I hope people enjoy what I write, but more than that, I really want to write things that bring people closer to Him. Going into 2010, I’m hoping my work will be worthy of what God wants me to put out there for you. If I’m quiet, you know I’m still working on it.
Here’s hoping that you have a wonderful New Year’s and that 2010 brings you closer to what matters most in your heart.
3~So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4~Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you toward repentance? Romans 2:3-4 (New International Version)
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