Love Me for Me and Not For What I Do.

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For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.  Ephesians 2:8

There is a significant lack of character that represents Jesus in the church today and that is the value of people instead of the value of ministry.  We have lost touch with what it is to value a person no matter what they do or don’t do and instead we have started to value people only for what they do in our churches.  But that isn’t the way Jesus loves.  Jesus loved us while we were sinners.  Jesus loves us right where we are at and that means even before we did anything good.  But the church has shown to only value the offering plate and the service.  They don’t reach out to value someone just because they are a person who deserves to be valued for no other reason but that they are a child of God.

 The church is supposed to be the body of Christ.  In other words, we are supposed to be the hands and feet of Christ but we have crippled Christ in this world.  We have become unable to share the love of Christ adequately because we are more concerned about our programing and keeping our weekly offering adequate than growing the individual in faith and love.  We have substituted gracious love for love based on works and I have a feeling Martin Luther is turning in his grave.  We have missed the mark.  We have swayed off coarse and loved ministry more than the people who do it.  We have valued and become a good old boys club and made church something like a gumball machine.  You get what you put into it.  If you put nothing into it you will get nothing and if you put into it you will get only what you put in.  But Jesus never loved like that.  He loved even when you put nothing into Him.  He has loved you even when you don’t love Him.  In fact, He loved you enough to die for you even though you didn’t love Him at the time.  Even if you never love Him, He still loved you enough to die for you.

But do we see that with our local churches?  Do we see this kind of love?  Or do we only get love from our churches based on what love we have put into it?

Let me ask you, do you feel valued at your church?  Is that value only because you DO something at the church that is seen as valuable?  Does the Pastor talk to you because you write out a big check each week or just because you are there?  Shouldn’t people find something different within our church walls then what is out in the world?  Shouldn’t we be loved just for being you, a precious child of God, rather than being loved for what you do or what you give?  Oh, how I wish I could hear your answers!

How can we put the value of a child of God back into our church?  How can we start to love unconditionally like Jesus and how can we heal the crippled body of Christ so we can show love to a dying world?

For what it is worth, this is what I think…it has to start with us.  If we wait for our church leaders, we might be waiting for eternity and quite honestly they too are victims of this kind of toxic love.  We only love them because of their good sermons and not for the human being that they are.  We love them only for what they do for us instead of loving and caring about them just because they are a child of God too.  But maybe, just maybe, our church leaders could, if they humbled themselves enough, learn something from us; just the people sitting in the pew if we reached out to love them not for what they do but for who they are.  Love them not because they are Pastors and Directors of our churches but because they are people.   Maybe if we reached out to value someone not because they stand out at church as a leader, not because of anything that they do but just because they deserve to be valued because Christ valued them enough to die for them too.  Maybe it’s just a quick pat on the back to someone you see at church regularly and you just know that church would not be the same without their presence there.  Maybe it’s just to thank someone for being at church and recognizing that you like that they are there each week, not because they do anything but because they are just themselves and worthy of being valued.

Maybe its opening up our small groups to others and not having exclusive groups where we only invite the people we think are important enough to be a part of our group.  Jesus sat in the company of tax collectors and sinners.  He ate at their houses, prayed with them, taught them and even washed their feet but yet we close the doors of our small groups to only people we think are worthy.  Have we then become a group of Pharisees?  What would our small groups look like if we opened the doors to people other than our handpicked selections?

I know I sound like I am ranting and raving and to be honest, I am.  I am angry with a holy anger that we have become such a crippled body of Christ.  I am angered that we have neglected to love people instead of programing and we have decided to love and value only on works and not by grace.

It is no wonder that 40% of young adults between the ages of 19-28 are leaving the Church.  They don’t have a problem with Jesus, they just don’t find Jesus in the church anymore instead they find Pharisees who only love the ones who do good works. The attitude is do good and be blessed.  Give and you will receive and though those are true, we have somehow also missed grace.  We have failed to preach the whole gospel and only are giving part of it.  Maybe God’s church would find its arms and legs and have them sufficiently work if we just gave gracious love out to people.  In fact, maybe we would actually see people grow in faith if we nourished with unconditional, gracious love.  Maybe our programs would work better if we valued people more than programs.

Love me for me and not for what I do is the cry of the people of God today and quite possibly God is asking us to look at how we love Him too.  Do we only love God for what He can do, or just because of who He is?

What do you think?

Today, go out and value someone not for what they do but for who they are.  Love them because they deserved to be loved even if they bring nothing to you.  Love them because God loves them.

It has to starts with us!

1 Corinthians 13  If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Romans 5:7-8 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 12:3 For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.

Ephesians 4:11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.  From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Jesus Christ is my biggest passion.  It is one of my greatest joys to share that passion with others through teaching, bible study, speaking and writing.  It is my hope that others will know the love of God in Christ Jesus.  On the Ottoman is my way of saying that I am sitting on the footstool of Jesus.  These are the lessons I am learning as I come to His Word and live my life.  I have worked as a nurse for 27 years and I believe I am still nursing people when I share Jesus.  I am, in a sense, pointing them to the Great Physician of their soul.  All healing comes from the inside out. The health of our Spirits is vital to the health of our mind and body.   My hope is that through this blog my “nursing skills” will be expanded to reach out to a larger group of people.  Maybe this is just the prescription you needed! www.ontheottoman.com

Written By: Sue Oberg

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Jesus Christ is my biggest passion.  It is one of my greatest joys to share that passion with others through teaching, bible study, speaking and writing.  It is my hope that others will know the love of God in Christ Jesus.  On the Ottoman is my way of saying that I am sitting on the footstool of Jesus.  These are the lessons I am learning as I come to His Word and live my life.  I have worked as a nurse for 27 years and I believe I am still nursing people when I share Jesus.  I am, in a sense, pointing them to the Great Physician of their soul.  All healing comes from the inside out. The health of our Spirits is vital to the health of our mind and body.   My hope is that through this blog my “nursing skills” will be expanded to reach out to a larger group of people.  Maybe this is just the prescription you needed! www.ontheottoman.com