I think that we often over complicate the Christian faith. I believe in solid Bible scholarship. I believe that preaching should be biblical, theologically correct, practical and rooted in the reality that we face today. I believe that the Christian faith is challenging and profound in its own way. I believe that any teaching of the Bible should have depth and not just be one’s opinion with a verse or two to “proof text” the opinion of the speaker or writer. But I believe we have seriously over complicated the basics of the faith.
The Christian faith is about love. God’s love for us. God’s love in us. God’s love through us to others. It is not about human love often seen as kindness, generosity, and gentleness. It is not a ‘feeling’ love. We often mix up God’s love with a feeling we have when we say we love sailing or love hockey or ice cream. Love is a decision. God decided that He would love us regardless. God decided that when we come to know Jesus as our personal Lord and Saviour that He would pour His love into us (Romans 5:5). And, after He has done this then we can truly love Him with a God-love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). And because His love lives within us we can love others as He would and does. Loving our fellow Christians, loving those who don’t yet know Him. And, hold on to your hat, loving even our enemies.
Jesus said, “By this will all people know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). All people – fellow believers, unbelievers, and those that hate and persecute us. This is loving others with the God kind of love known in the Greek language as Agapé.
And based in this love we can then accept other people just as Jesus accepted us. His acceptance of us was based in His love for us and not in something we did or didn’t do. Our performance. He simply accepted us as we were – yet knowing what we had done as well as who we could become and what we could do in His Kingdom. His is an unconditional love. Love without conditions. No-strings-attached love. And we are to then, from His love residing in us, accept others unconditionally. Regardless of their status in society, their education, their wealth or lack thereof. We accept them regardless of their history, their cultural and social background, or what they have done – the sin in their lives. Jesus came to love the sinner and so must we.
As we accept others they will come to experience the love of God through us. As they see that love and experience the acceptance they will, with the help of the Holy Spirit, draw closer to the Saviour and begin to experience His acceptance and love. This will open their hearts to the conviction of the Holy Spirit which will, in time, result in godly sorrow and repentance (2 Corinthians 7:8-10) which will lead them to salvation.
The third element in the basics of the simple but profound Christian faith is total forgiveness. When a person encounters forgiveness in their relationships with believers they will begin to experience, in a small yet significant way, the total and absolute forgiveness that can only be found in knowing Jesus. As they encounter forgiveness in their relationships with Christians they will come to understand that forgiveness is not only possible but available. In the world they did find forgiveness. Revenge, yes! Rejection, yes! Judgment, yes! Offences, yes! Hatred, yes! Only in relationship with believers will they taste the total and absolute forgiveness that they seek and need in life. Because we, as disciples, have experienced total forgiveness we can offer our forgiveness to others when they speak or act against us, hurt us, or reject us. A small taste of the forgiveness they will receive when they come to know Jesus personally.
This is the Christian faith – Jesus loves us unconditionally, accepts us just as we are, and forgives us totally – past, present, and future. We are called to be like Jesus and do the same in our relationships with both believers and non-believers. Love, accept, and forgive. Let’s not complicate it. The Christian faith is profound and deep but it is also simple and practical.
The LAF Principle – Love, Accept, and Forgive.