Maybe we don’t love people the way we should love them, because we want to change them. We want that so badly. But we can’t change people! Only the Spirit of God can do that. When we try to change people, all we do is push them away from God.
Unfortunately, there’s a lot of that in the church. Sometimes people get around Christians, and they feel a kind of guilt trip. Or they feel like they’re just being looked down on in disgust. They feel that way because they are always being told that what they’re doing is wrong. That has to change!
We should be telling them how much they are loved by the Almighty God. If the aroma of Christ is truly on us, people will feel that. If the aroma of Christ is truly on us, and someone is hanging out with us, it’ll feel so good that they’ll probably say something about it. They’ll say something like, “Man, it just feels so good to be here with you.”
And I think this is starting to happen. But this problem of judging is why you see organizations serving the poor without mentioning God in their title, or even in their mission statement. How sad is that? They don’t mention God, because they want people to feel safe. They don’t mention God, because they want people to feel loved and included. They don’t mention God, because they want people to know from the get-go that they will not be judged. This has to change!
The church can learn a lot from these organizations. They are beloved in their communities. All they do is love. They deliberately don’t judge people. They simply love them for who they are.
I recently received the Community Hero Award from the GLIDE Foundation. The Foundation is widely-respected, in large part because its CEO, Reverend Cecil Williams, has spent decades loving his neighbors as himself. It was made famous by the Will Smith movie The Pursuit of Happyness. The GLIDE Foundation is part of GLIDE Memorial Church and is a community of very faithful people, but its statement of mission and values makes no mention of God.
At the Foundation’s awards banquet, the GLIDE people were talking about all the things they do, like serving the poor. They do everything that I do. And they said that they believe in equality of marriage for all people. I don’t necessarily agree with that! But that doesn’t mean I don’t love what they do.
In fact, when I gave my speech, I told them, “You guys embody me. You embody everything about me. GLIDE represents who I am, because you truly love people.” Now I don’t necessarily agree with their entire moral code. But I would hang out with them, all the time! They represent Jesus because they love the human being.
And I would rather hang with GLIDE people, than hang out in churches that just sit there and look down in judgment and pound people for their mistakes all the time. That just doesn’t make sense to me. If the Kingdom of God is love, then you don’t need to judge. If you’re representing Jesus correctly, the judgment shouldn’t be there.
I know what you’re thinking! You’re wondering, “But Jeremy, does this mean you can’t say that people are wrong?” No, you can say they’re wrong. I do that all the time! See you Saturday.