Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Are We Doing More Than Demons?

I've spent a lot of time pondering of late, considering "What does God want of me?" and "What does it mean to worship God?" and even "What does it mean to be a Christian?"

Jesus is very clear on this matter. We are to *help one another* to *love one another* and to *work to bring each other to Salvation*.

It isn't an "iffy" kinda thing. It is a Command.

Take, for example, James, chapter 2, verse 14-20: [no, don't let your eyes glaze over - read this Scripture and really *think* about it - allow it to speak to your heart right now!]

14What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?

15If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food,

16and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?

17Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

18But someone may well say, "You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works."

19You believe that there is one God; You do well; the demons also believe, and tremble.

20But are you willing to recognize, O Vain Man, that faith without works is useless?"

Christ puts it more simply in John 13:35:

"35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."

1 John 4:20-21 tells us:

"20 If a man say 'I love God', and hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21 And this commandment have we from him, that he who loveth God love his brother also."

I could go on, but I won't. You get the idea - the Bible is full of Scripture Commanding us to love one another - the Greatest Commandment second only to loving God.

In our current cultural climate, it takes real courage even to say "I believe in God".

But, I think sometimes we can get so caught up in our *personal* worship of God, and feeling SO prideful about the fact that we believe, that we have a strong faith, that we pray, etc that we forget - Jesus says that these things are worthless unless we do works. He tells us that even the *demons* do as much!

Think about that for a moment. The one thing that separates us as Christians from DEMONS is loving one another.


That fact hit me a few weeks ago, and I've really been thinking on it.

I fail at this so miserably! Most days, it would probably be a lot easier to convict me of being a Demon than of being a Christian, based on the evidence I'm providing to the world. Isn't that terrible? It is Shameful!

My personal spiritual goal now is to make sure that I am loving to *every* person I meet. Obviously, being human, this is impossible to achieve 100%. But I am going to strive for that.

I have been very confused these last months about my faith - confused about what to believe, what Church to believe, etc.

But I have learned some things - God has gifted me with some very *clear* revelation these past few months.

I have not been loving as I should have been.

I have been somewhat decent at showing love to my fellow Christians - most of the time anyway [failing miserably and spectacularly at other times :( ].

But I have not been loving to God's *other* children. I have been too wrapped up in my own little world, composed almost entirely of those who share my religious beliefs, and I have not reached out to others beyond my circle in many years.

I am ashamed of myself.

I'm not sure how I got here. In my 20s I spent a few years volunteering at an AIDS hospice, which certainly gave me the opportunity to meet and care for a very wide variety of people. [I only quit after 3 of my favorite residents died all in a 2 week period and I just couldn't take it any more emotionally. I get very attached to people.].

I have come to see clearly that in most things I have been busy ministering to the sheep in my own fold and I have not gone outside my own little pen to see what the other sheep may need from me, or what the goats are crying about out in the darkness [when I carry THE Light]. There is no excuse for that.

So, personally, I see that I must LOVE others and I must broaden my own horizons to reach out to those who are different from me.

I am not sure how I will accomplish this considering my current station in life - I can't minister at the AIDS hospice nor at a Prison nor many other things with 6 small children in tow. Those opportunities will come later, when I am in a different season of life. And I will make sure I am ready to say "Yes" when that season comes.

For now, I am making it my goal to *always* speak charitably of others, especially those who are different than I am.

I am making it my priority to smile at other people when I am out and about - just a smile. But some days when your world is crashing down around you, a friendly smile can seem like a life preserver on the stormy sea [I know this from personal experience].

I am making it my priority to *notice* the people around me in the grocery store, on the street, or where ever I may be - and to *notice* if they may need my assistance in some small thing. [or some large thing if it presents itself].

Those are my personal [small, inadequate] goals for now.

But there is also another side to this coin.

Not only MUST we love one another, but we must ALLOW others to love us. We fail at the second even more often than we fail at the first!

I was talking to a sweet Catholic friend of mine last week and she was saying that she felt like she should be doing more to help people, but she felt frustrated because even when she offered to help others they just said "No, we don't need help" and refused her charity even though they obviously DID need it.

I pondered on that a lot.

This is one key difference between the Catholic Church and the LDS Church and how the believers behave.

In my personal experience, in the Catholic church people DO often refuse your help, even when they desperately need it. In fact, some Catholics I've offered to cook for [or whatever I felt I could do to help] have been downright offended that I would suggest such a thing! As though it were a personal insult that I was insinuating that they could not "handle it all" by themselves.

In the LDS Church people do not do this. They say "OH yes! PLEASE! Thank you so much!" and they graciously accept the help you offer.

This is as it should be. I think Catholics [all Christians actually] could really learn a lesson here.

God calls us all to Serve one another, but the only way we can serve one another is if we also *accept service* in a spirit of humility and gratitude.

In 1982, LDS President Marion G. Romney said "Each of us should strive to help others in areas where we have strengths. At the same time, pride should not prevent us from graciously accepting the helping hand of another when we have a real need. To do so denies another person the opportunity to participate in a sanctifying experience."

A very faithful Catholic priest once said something very similar to me. He told me that by denying others the opportunity to help us in our need, we are denying them the chance to practice Charity - which they are commanded by God to do.

This admonition crosses all lines of beliefs. Human beings are sanctified through their love for others - human beings are made *better* through their service to others.

God intentionally created us as social creatures.

He *intentionally* created us to NEED one another.

If we think we can "do it ALL" [or even that we *should* "do it ALL"] then we actually commit the sin of Pride - a grave sin against the Will of God - because THAT is NOT God's Way. Not at all.

We are ALL called not only to love, but to accept the love that others offer us.

Think on that for a moment.

I hope that we will all continually look for opportunities to love ALL the children of God all around us.

I hope that we will also strive for humility and the ability to gratefully accept the help of others when it is generously offered in the spirit of love.

I hope that we can set ourselves apart from the Demons and bring the World the Light of Christ.

God Bless you.

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