A Very Good Question
And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” - Luke 19:9 (NKJ)
Zacchaeus was a very unpopular tax collector who was called down from a tree by Jesus whom he was watching. Jesus let him know that He would be eating at his house that day. Others complained, saying, “He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner.” (Verses 1-9)
This brought me to a question I read on a social app that reads, “Church dropouts why did you stop going to church?” I read the responses, and I had a mixture of emotions. Some replies believe the Bible is not valid, some felt judged, lied to, or that church was a cult, some were hurt by the “Christians” and shared that Christians use the bible to hate those who are different.
I haven’t replied to the question, but I am processing and praying about it. The question and the responses made me think back to why I left the church for a while. I have been hurt by more than one “church” that I attended. The reasons varied. At one time I took several months away from the church so that I could hear what God had to say to me without the input of manmade doctrines or others’ opinions. God showed me that Grace is what I was in need of at a time when I felt lost and alienated. (1 Peter 5:10; Acts 11:23)
Some questions came to me which asked, "Have you ever loved someone so much and no matter what you said, or did they wouldn’t believe you or love you back?" and "When in a loving relationship wouldn’t you both require truth, trust, accountability and love?" I believe Jesus loves us this way and He was hurt by the church who actually had Him hung upon a cross. The religious leaders snubbed His truth, but He still took to the cross all their thoughts and motives to give us hope so that one day we could choose to receive His love for us and model His love and share His truth with those who need Grace. (1 Peter 5:12)
I was in a relationship where I prayed, had others pray, fasted, sacrificed, sought wise council, followed what the "church" asked me to do, and my relationship still ended in divorce. The person did not want to follow what a loving relationship required; what God’s standards require. They didn’t love me enough and ultimately God. (Isaiah 65:2)
We can’t make others love us or believe us and I’m certain that God is so faithful that while we were opposing Him, Christ still died for us so that one day we could humbly receive Christ’s sacrifice of love and love Him back enough to have a relationship with Him and share Him with others. (Romans 5:8)
As a follower of Christ, I ask myself, "What kind of relationship would it be if one wasn’t honest with you and didn’t love you enough to share the truth?" and "What are we as followers of Christ portraying to those who walk into God’s house to seek grace with truth?" I know from experience that there are some who will find blame no matter how close we reflect Christ and He is big enough to handle them as He transforms His likeness to us. (Ephesians 5:1-2)
Heavenly Father, my hope is in You and You alone and I thank You that You took the time to set me aside to teach me about Your grace and truth. My heart breaks for those who have been hurt by Your people just as Yours has been hurt by Your creation. Teach us how to love and share Your grace with truth to others who want to belong and be loved. Forgive us if we have not reflected Your heart to those who seek You. (Acts 20:24)
This devotion by author, Terrie Miles, is exclusively and solely shared with permission to New Beginnings Church. Any unauthorized printed reproduction, sharing or use of this material is prohibited.