Please! Don’t Take Me With You!

I am deeply disturbed by the recent rash of murder-suicides happening all around the country with couples. I am trying to wrap my head around it. The whole situation is senseless!

I mean, if you kill that person in a fit of jealous rage, that only proves that you really didn’t love them in the first place and that the relationship was all about you, because real love doesn’t hurt!

So, you kill them, cause untold grief and despair for everyone involved, ruin your life and then go to jail, just to prove you are not to be played? That doesn’t seem very smart to me! Especially when you consider how many other people there are in the world; surely there is someone else you could find happiness with.

And then there are those who kill their lover and then turn around and kill themselves! I mean; what’s the point? If you killed them because you couldn’t stand the idea of them being with someone else, why not just kill yourself first? That would serve the same purpose.

Now before anybody thinks that I am suggesting murder or that people should commit suicide before they murder someone, I am not! I’m just thinking out loud, trying to make sense out of a senseless situation.

But, I will say this: If you are troubled and contemplating such irrational actions as I have just described, find someone to talk to! I can assure you that murder and suicide are never viable options! If you are angry and upset that they left you or cheated on you, your best revenge is to go on with your life and be happy! Whatever you’re going through, remember that you’re just going through; it won’t last! It’s only temporary! That is why murder and suicide are so tragic; murder and suicide are permanent solutions to temporary problems

In times like these, we need to be there for one another! If someone comes to you with a situation, most of the time, they already know what they need to do, they just need someone to listen. Please be a good listener and a good friend. Don’t betray their trust in you and don’t abuse their confidence in you.

Let’s look out for one another! Murder and suicide are never viable options; but love always is! 

 

Christ-like Christians

intensify-christlike In Acts 11:26, the Bible says the disciples or the followers of Jesus were first called “Christians” at Antioch. Historical evidence suggest that it was a derogatory term given by unbelievers. Today the term is used to describe anyone who has even a loose association with the teachings and character of Jesus or to describe one who has made an authentic profession of faith. For some, the term “Christian” is merely a political label, used to distinguish those who advocate a certain political agenda. For others, the term is used as a synonym for church membership. For years, I thought all church members were Christians! It wasn’t until I became a church leader that I discovered that was not the case! But, even though all church members are not Christians, all Christians should be church members!

So, the problem today is an age-old one. Many who claim the name “Christian” have caused the name to be dishonored and cursed. There are just so many un-Christ-like Christians! It is because of these un-Christ-like Christians, the name of God, is as the Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 2:24, blasphemed, or spoken evil of, among unbelievers. I think the real problem many unbelievers have with Christianity is not so much with Christ, as with those who profess to be followers of Christ! By and large, those of us who claim to follow Christ have not been very good representatives of him.

For many people, Christians are considered to be narrow-minded, bigoted, judgmental, and hateful. To those people, I would say: “Please don’t judge the Father by the short-comings of his children!” Real Christians are by no means perfect people, they are just people who have been perfectly forgiven! And often, they forget that just as they have been forgiven, they have been commanded to forgive others. A real Christian is a works in progress; unfinished, still in the growing process.

But what is the difference between a real Christian who is a work in progress and a person who is not a Christian at all, but just is merely claiming the title? Well, for the real Christian, there was a definite point in time when their lives were transformed by the power of God. At some point in time, God transformed their lives and His Spirit took residence in their hearts. At that point they were “born again” and the growth to spiritual maturity began. The person who is merely trying to act like a Christian has not had this experience.

But my purpose is not to discuss the differences between those who are Christians and those who are not. What I want to point out is some of the un-Christ-like attitudes and actions that even genuine Christians might from time to time perform. For instance, there has been so much talk since the death of Bishop Eddie Long of the New Birth Baptist Church in Lithonia, GA. Many so-called Christians have used the occasion of his death to demonize him and his legacy. Truth is; Eddie Long was not a perfect man! (But neither are any of us perfect people!) He made his share of mistakes, but he also did a lot of good things. While I did not personally agree with his theology and many of the things he did, I dare not defame him or his memory. The Apostle Paul asked in Romans 14:4 “Who are you to pass judgment on another’s servant? Before his own master, he stands or falls.” (Rom. 14:4 NET) No matter what any of us think of Bishop Eddie Long or anyone else, in the final analysis, it really doesn’t matter! We don’t have a heaven or a hell to send anyone to! And besides that, we should also remember; the same rule we use to measure or judge others, we will be measured and judged by!

Even in the matter of obvious sins, we should be careful that we don’t attempt to usurp the authority of God in judging people. We often quote John 3:16, but very few people remember John 3:17 which says: “God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. (Jn. 3:17 NLT) If we call ourselves Christians, that means we are Christ-like or like Christ. Well, if Jesus wasn’t in the business of judging people and we’re supposed to be like him, then why are we so quick to be judge, jury and executioner? Now, I hear somebody saying: “Preacher, I’m not judging, I’m just telling the truth!” That might very well be, but the Bible teaches that we are not to use the truth as a weapon to harm others! Ephesians 4:15 teaches us to speak the truth in love. In other words, our motivation for speaking the truth shouldn’t be to tear others down or to belittle them, but rather to lift and build them up! Now, this doesn’t mean that we are not to condemn sin. No, we are to love the sinner and hate the sin! Just because you may point out someone’s sin, that doesn’t mean you’re being judgmental or hateful. In fact, if it is done correctly with the right motivation; it is an act of love! It is a mean and hateful person who sees me headed for destruction and does not say anything to warn me! It’s a poor parent that doesn’t say anything to a toddler who is about to tip boiling hot water on its head because the parent doesn’t want to hurt the child’s feelings!

I didn’t mean to go off on a rant, but I felt compelled to write this in view of all the hateful, mean-spirited, words that are being spoken and written by those in and out of the church today! The bottom line is this: If we claim the name “Christian,” the least we can do is act Christ-like! Do we honestly think Jesus would say some of the things we say and act the way we act? The Bibles says, the same mind that was in Christ Jesus should be in us. Let us pray that as we live our lives, we will be shaped into the image of Christ and be strong enough to resist the temptation to try to shape Christ into our image. Let us pray that we will truly be “Christ-like Christians.”

Get Jonah Off Your Ship!

jonahThe story of Jonah in the Bible is an interesting story. The sailors that Jonah was sailing with found themselves in a storm only because Jonah was on board! They were caught up in the middle of a bad situation that they really had nothing to do with! The Bible indicates that the only reason they were going through the storm was because Jonah was on board!

Could it be that some of the turmoil in our lives might be caused by the Jonah’s we’ve allowed to be on board our ships (Friendships, relationships, and fellowships)? Now, this is by no means an attempt to legitimize blaming other people for the situations in our lives. But it is merely to point out the fact that many of those situations exist only because of the presence of certain people in our lives. We can’t legitimately blame other people for the situations in our lives because we allow their presence in our lives! We are the ones who gave them the boarding pass (permission) to be in our lives!

So, if there is turmoil in your life, it might be a good idea to take inventory of the people you have allowed in your life to see if they are Jonah. How can you tell if they are Jonah? Let’s go back to the biblical story and see if there are some hints.

Note the biblical text reveals that the ship was going in the opposite direction from which Jonah was supposed to be going. The Jonah’s in your life are the people who didn’t really intend to go in your direction; but they are just with you for the ride. They make no real contribution and before you allowed them on board, they weren’t even going in your direction! The Jonah’s in your life are the people who don’t quite fit, but they make superficial adjustments just to be on board.

Jonah paid the fare and immediately went down into the hull of the ship! The Jonah’s in your life are the silent, non-participating, and non-revealing people in your life. They know something about you; but you really don’t know much about them! They are the ones who are always “taking” from the relationship while never making a meaningful contribution.

Jonah went down into the ship and went to sleep! He even slept through the storm! The Jonah’s in your life are the people who sleep through your storms! When you are going through whatever you’re going through, they are mostly detached, uninterested or otherwise unavailable.

And then finally, it was Jonah himself who was the cause of the storm! Because Jonah was attempting to flee from the presence of the Lord, he put innocence people at risk because of his presence on their boat! Beware of letting people into your life and then getting caught up in their drama, which really has nothing to do with you! The cemetery is full of people who are filling an early grave because they allowed certain people into their lives and they got caught up in Jonah’s storm! Many jails are populated with people who made the mistake of letting Jonah get on board and then they got caught up in Jonah’s storm! Whoever you allow in your life; remember their baggage comes with them! Be careful that you don’t suffer the collateral damage of getting caught up in their storms!

When I was a teenager, whenever I would tell my parents about meeting a new friend, the first thing they would ask me was: “Who are their people?” Knowing their folks was a good indication of their character! Every now and then, I would meet someone and my mother would tell me that I didn’t need to associate or be friends with that person because my mother knew that person was a Jonah! We all would do well to check the passenger lists of our various ships to see if we have a Jonah on board. And if we do, it would be wise to get Jonah off the ship!