Imaginary, pretended, phony – or real?

Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.
Romans 12:9-10 NLT

1) Love people. Genuine love
2) Hate what is wrong.
3) Delight in honoring each other

I’m realizing that many that I hear speaking religious/spiritual messages are good at 2 out of the 3, but few encorporate all 3 equally into a message. Yes, even my own imperfect delivery at times leans to one or the other – that’s why I’m still growing and learning. 

Many worldly churches of the day are excited to talk about loving others and honoring each other, but they carve out the parts of the Word of God that talk about hating what is wrong,  about living a righteous life, about the cost of Discipleship,  about being fit for the kingdom of God,  about God being a righteous God. The excuses given are that is will scare people away from coming and hearing the Word of God, that it will limit their attendance, and their reach – and clearly,  we know that it will hurt their income as well if those uncomfortable with hearing the whole Word of God were being fed. Many would say things like,  it’s all up to God to change me – if I’m still sinning,  it’s because, He hasn’t changed that yet – but I have faith that He will one day (while they continue happily in their lives of sin,  with no real interest in a life following Him).

But also,  many loveless churches focus on hating what is wrong and honoring each other – focusing on the letter of the law and using it to measure and compare one another,  even dividing themselves into classes and levels of believers with words like clergy and laity. They overlook mercy and grace and forgiveness and become cold to the struggles of those in captivity and powerless to see fruit in their own, because they are examining their lives from a perspective of what they can accomplish under their own power. They are striving to live up to the standard of Jesus Christ,  while denying the very power that might save them.

And the two are veryvgood at pointing fingersateachother and casting stones, and crying “false teacher” towards one another, but right down the middle between those two well worn, broad paths to destruction, there is a narrow path.

If you think that grace is a license to continue in your sinful ways,  you are mistaken. Repent,  and seek first the Kingdom of God and RIGHTEOUSNESS. If you think that you can earn God’s favor, if you think that you can hate sin enough to make up for your lack of love for other people,  you are mistaken. Repent, go and learn what it means that He desires MERCY and not sacrifice.

The challenge is that if we have people who have been hurt and who have seen the error in the teachers sitting happily on “either side” instead of firmly upon the narrow path – they may move to a teacher who is on the “other side” – and we may end up with folks blown back and forth by the wind. Or we get someone already heavily influenced towards one side being fed more and more in that direction as they are seeking a message that suits their itchy ears, instead of receiving correction that sets them back on the narrow path. If we are not being challenged and convicted by a teacher but it is only reinforcing our existing stance,  we should ask ourselves if we are being fed,  if we are growing, or if we are just content and complacent warming a familiar pew/seat.

And I tell you, the problem is not as much the false teachers as it is the people not being genuinely interested in a relationship with their creator. Many would rather listen to a teacher than seek the Lord themselves – so we end up with a world of sheep and goats running around, becoming familiar with the roaring voices of hirelings, but how few are listening for the still, quiet voice of the Good Shepherd? There is a demand from this fallen world and the lost for teachings of darkness masked as if they were light, and as a result,  you find wolves and hirelings.

And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.  All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed.  But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants. ”
John 3:19-21 NLT

You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!
2 Timothy 3:1-5 NLT

The night is almost gone; the day of salvation will soon be here. So remove your dark deeds like dirty clothes, and put on the shining armor of right living. Because we belong to the day, we must live decent lives for all to see. Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy. Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.
Romans 13:12-14 NLT

Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? Their own master will judge whether they stand or fall. And with the Lord’s help, they will stand and receive his approval.
In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honor him. Those who eat any kind of food do so to honor the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who refuse to eat certain foods also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God. For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves. If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. Christ died and rose again for this very purpose—to be Lord both of the living and of the dead.
So why do you condemn another believer ? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For the Scriptures say, “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord , ‘every knee will bend to me, and every tongue will declare allegiance to God. ’” Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.
Romans 14:1-13 NLT

May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.
Romans 15:5-7 NLT

I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose.
1 Corinthians 1:10 NLT

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