No Christ, Christian

You are bound to have noticed in the shops the most recent food craze is plant-based food or meat-free, Vegan?? To be honest, some of the food is delicious. Personally,  it is not that I would never want to taste meat again, but if I was left with no option but to change to a plant-based diet, I believe that taste and flavours and nutrition would be enough to satisfy me long term.

Have you seen these things in stores? You may have noticed some labels like No-Chicken Kiev or No-Duck spring rolls. I was included in a discussion this week when we discussed how these new vegan ‘meats’ were being labelled the same as the meat only with no in front. The conclusion of the discussion is that more suitable names should be found for these products. I have to agree.

It got me thinking about how we identify and label things. If these products can still have meat titles without the meat, and don’t start stressing, I’m not going to go there with the whole gender thing (I wouldn’t have enough time in my week!), can we identify ourselves as Christian without having Christian values as our main ingredient?

Personally, Christian wouldn’t be a term I would often use to identify myself because, in our culture, especially in Northern Ireland, the word Christian stirs up so much religious crap. Although, by faith, that is exactly what I am, I would be more inclined to say Jesus follower or Christ follower.

I will often say the Bible isn’t a rule book, it’s a guide, and I mean it. If you want to live your life for Jesus and go after everything God designed for your life you’re gonna want to stick to these guidelines, it’s all in there. I guarantee you.

But can we really live our Christian lives without Christian values?

Can we claim to live a Christ-centred life then still gossip about people? Can we be filled with Christ and still hold grudges against those who hurt us, or have no compassion for those in need or hurting around us? Are we authentically Christian if we pick and choose which moral codes we like out of the Bible? Is being a no-Christ Christian going to church on a Sunday as part of your social calendar, while not being willing to serve God?  Does being a no-Christ Christian look like throwing your hands up to nice music on a Sunday, yet being an ungrateful brat to get your own way on a Monday? Or purposely causing conflict in situations, or refusing to resolve conflict because of pride? Or being impatient in traffic or in a checkout queue, just another place we don’t need to be Christ-like?

My worry is that what we excuse in grace is just accommodating a new culture of Christ-less Christians, because we want Christianity to become more appealing or accepted, or simply because we are afraid to call our friends out on these behaviours. Have we become too accepting of poor values?

“Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I feel like I’ve had to challenge myself on what behaviours I compromise and accept in my own life this week and I wonder…

Do you feel these areas could be improved in your own life?

Would you be willing to challenge a friend on any of these listed above?

Do you believe these are things to be concerned about?

I believe that we can’t just will ourselves to be more loving or patient or kind, it has to be a heart makeover. We need to lean into God more, understand his heart and ask him to change our heart in the areas where we lack.

And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.”
‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭36:26‬ ‭NLT‬‬

 

Just Love

Yesterday was February 14th.  Ah, Valentine’s Day!

Consumer heaven!

Day for the lovers…

Firstly… I hope everyone had an amazing day!

Not in a bid to make anyone feel bad for their highlight reel on social media, but, for some, this is a day that can raise a lot of painful issues about their circumstances.

Single parents post about love for their children. Christians, their love for Jesus. Pet lovers, love for their pets. Couples profess their love via social media to someone sitting in the same room. (It’s ok! I’ve also used social media to communicate to someone in the same room, no judgement here)

It must be pretty tough if you’ve recently lost your spouse or just recently separated and are still grieving to go on FB or Instagram and read others’ posts about how much they are loved.

I’ll be honest, in the past, this day has left me feeling a little bitter. (Not even a little, probably on the verge of campaigning to have it boycotted!) For me, it seemed to highlight everything I believed then I was missing in life or, more to the point, everything I believed I was not worthy of.

Friends would comfort me and say but look at your lovely boys and Jesus loves you (all true) and blah blah blah! ( yeah!  When was the last time my boys took me out on a date to dinner or the cinema!)

Yesterday morning I was about to take to social media and blab about how amazing my boys were and how blessed I am to have them, which is all true…. promise!  (angelic miniature replicas of their mother)

Then I got the old nudge! (more like this like a Holy Spirit boot to the shin). What if today wasn’t about how much the world proved I was loved, but a day I could prove how much I could love others? Or even better show the world how much Jesus loved.

I felt God Challenge me not to allow this day to be defined by what I got, rather by what I could give.

By giving.

I don’t mean the three flowers in cheap cellophane the garage are selling for £15.

Love can be shown in lots of different ways.

I want to encourage you to love others this week?

So often we get confused on the idea of what love looks like. I think it is a common misbelief that, in order to love someone, you have to agree with their behaviour or approve of their lifestyle. We have to agree with their way of thinking and, in turn, this causes us to withhold love. I don’t think we have to agree with or approve of someone or their lifestyle to be able to love them. If you are choosing to do this today, can I encourage you to stop? Love should not be conditional, it shouldn’t be a reward for agreement and it shouldn’t be used as some kind of bait to get people round to your way of thinking.

This week can we try and love out… to people regardless of the circumstances, regardless of what you may class as their poor life choices, regardless of any preconditions. You don’t need to come into agreement to love, just love whatever way you can.

  • Buy the coffee for the person in front of you rooting in their pocket for change.
  • Carry that lady’s shopping to the car.
  •  Stop in traffic and let that big flashy Range Rover out that you normally wouldn’t (because, well it’s just rude to have a car that big).
  • Cook an extra cottage pie at dinner and leave it into your elderly neighbours.
  • If you can afford it whack £20 in an envelope with a takeaway menu and post it through a single mum’s or single dad’s door so she or he don’t have to cook some night.
  • Hold the door and let someone through in front of you.
  • Pick up the phone and talk to that friend who you haven’t spoken to in months but has been on your mind.
  • Say sorry where you are wrong, even when it’s hard.
  • Tell your friend what good qualities you see in her.
  • Pray for the ones you struggle with.
  • Smile at that kid acting up rather than judging their parents method of disipline

If you can’t do anything else, just pray! Just pray for those people for whom this time is just that little bit tougher.

Lift people up! Shine brightly!

You can’t always change people’s minds, but you can be a bright light to something better.

Love people. Today be the person you need the most to others.

 p.s Jesus does love you!

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:4-7‬ ‭ESV‬‬

love T x