How to Love the Sinner without Being Condescending
- Mindy Fitterling Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2017 26 Jan
The Christian faith is tested every day in our secular society. Fewer and fewer Americans identify with the Christian faith, while more and more cling to the agnostic or atheist lifestyle.
In a study conducted by Pew Research Center, 6.7 percent of Americans between 2007 and 2014 fell away from Christianity altogether and adopted an agnostic or atheist religious view. The Truth that we profess, Jesus Christ being the Savior of the world, has become relative. It is no longer a truth that all communities share.
From the decriminalization of marijuana in several states, to the universal validity of gay marriage under the law and the prominence of sex in our media, our faith is continuously challenged. It frustrates us, disorients our beliefs, and may make us angry or resentful.
So how do we handle our progressive society with grace and mercy? How do we speak to those that do not share our ideals without belittling or looking down on them?
Because we have professed Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are expected to meet a higher standard. We are expected to rise above the sinful nature of the world, knowing that salvation is the end goal to this life, and keeping in mind that we are not perfect ourselves.
Is the road to salvation a difficult path? Absolutely.
It is worth it? Absolutely.
The good news is we are not alone or ill-equipped.
Jesus gave us two new commandments to follow, so that we may live out the will of God in our lives and continue his Great Commission:
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- Love your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind.
- Love your neighbor as yourself.
Popular culture will tell you that love is synonymous with “tolerance,” but as parents, teachers, and practicing Christians, we understand that love is not always tolerant of compromising behavior. It is best that we remain firm in the ministry of Christ, while remaining inviting and approachable. It is even more important that we stand in solidarity to our faith, even if there is adversity.
As Christians we follow Paul’s teaching from his first letter to the Corinthians, where he gives the definition of love in its clearest form:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delights in evil, but rejoices with the Truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, and always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)
When we look out at our world so desperately in need of pure, godly love, we must keep this verse in mind. If we are to be models for our neighbors and treat them as Jesus has asked of us, we must show humility, forgive quickly, and remain patient and compassionate.
Our society is hurting. Because we know the Truth from God’s Word and what brings true fulfillment to our lives, it is our responsibility to be role models to those around us. It is possible to show the love of Christ in a graceful manner through a positive example.
In America today, Christianity is under the microscope. Everywhere we turn, we are criticized and rejected. My advice to you is to show fortitude by remaining strong in your faith.
Peter tells us in 1 Peter 2:11, “Dear friends, I warn you as temporary residents and foreigners to keep away from worldly desire that wage war against your souls.” He explains to us that we are foreigners. We are not of this world, but of the Kingdom of God.
We cannot succumb to the hate or to the negativity that we experience around us. We cannot lose sight of the path that Jesus has paved for us simply because of the words of others that don’t believe. We must always rise above the waves.
So how do we put our conviction to action?
Begin by learning your Scripture.
The tools to setting an example of a joyful Christian lifestyle are living out the teachings of the Word in your everyday life. Your audience will not be reached solely through your words, but through your actions.
Set aside time for prayer.
Your relationship with the Lord will sustain you. By maintaining an active relationship, you can be confident that you are remaining in God’s will for your life, and that he is strengthening you for times of trial.
Our work as Christians is to show our neighbors the promises of Christ; therefore we must have a “home base” of Christians to build us, replenish us, and encourage us. We cannot walk through this life alone.
Be prepared for trial.
Although we want the Christian lifestyle to be full of happiness, sometimes it will come with suffering. Do not forget Jesus’s commandments and how to actively live out love in your life. Be courageous and stand up for your convictions. God gifts us with his promises when we endure (James 1:12).
“Love your neighbor.” That’s what Jesus has asked of us. Let’s fight the good fight, while remaining patient, humble and merciful. Our communities need us.
Mindy Fitterling is a recent college graduate from St. Louis, Missouri. She now works in IT Security for a Healthcare company in Nashville, TN. When she is not fighting cyber crime by day, she is snuggling with her puppy and writing for young women on her personal blog, Women For Higher (womenforhigher.com).
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: January 26, 2017