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Christ In Life
By Trista Snyder
Christ In Life, By Trista Snyder
For I am convinced that neither death nor
life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height
nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that
is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
…May you be able to feel and understand, as all God’s children should, how long, how
wide, how deep and how high his love really is; and to experience this love for yourself, though it
is so great that you will never see the end of it or fully know or understand it.
I’ve found that the word “Christian” can procure instant bias and often negative connotations.
It is not hard to understand why. First, it is a religion that appears splintered; the dizzying
number of Protestants, Lutherans, Catholics, some orthodox, some liberal, seems to draw from any
attempt at a united front. Second, those who are not Christians justifiably feel isolated by and
withdrawn from an ideology that seems to quite easily condemn them to an eternity of hell. Third,
hypocrisy runs deep; on one hand is the middle class housewife, who adamantly believes that
non-Christians are doomed, yet who gossips about her friends and does not lift a finger to help
those less fortunate than she. On the other hand are the spiritual pillars of the religion,
entrenched in as much scandal and corruption as our elected officials. This image, perpetuated in
part by those responsible for upholding the tenets of their faith, is the problem with Christianity
as a religion.
But, here is my challenge: I question that we should even call Christianity a religion, as religion is seen by our standards today. We view religion as something that we fit into the end of our day right before we go to sleep, something that tucks nicely into the Sunday time slot between a bacon and egg breakfast and afternoon football. Religion is something that we motion through, a tradition surrounded by stiff collars and an instant gratification of feeling righteous and vindicated from our immediate transgressions. This is what religion has become to many, and this is not Christianity. Christianity is meant to be lived; it is life, not a religion. It is one unifying principle that connects every living, breathing person to one another. It knows no sects or factions, because it upholds only one simple truth that has been made available to each of us. That truth is love, unconditional love that God has for us, and that we may have for each other if we choose to do so. It is a love that can be felt even in the smallest details. We may feel it as the warmth of the sun on the back of our necks, or in the smile of a stranger. Through all the debate and differences of opinion on how one should lead life, the answer is simple. Jesus said, love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. And beyond that, for though we have been taught to love our neighbor and hate our enemies, Jesus says, But I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. We’ve heard to “turn the other cheek” when someone wrongs us, but the unconditional love that He speaks of goes even further: And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. This principle is most evident in His sacrifice. For the longest time, I did not truly understand how one man’s death could somehow atone for the offenses of humanity. The answer to my bewilderment is explained by love. God showed us how to achieve that perfect love, with Jesus as our tangible example. So unconditional was His love for us, that He was willing to die for those very people who were spitting on him and driving spikes into his hands. He prayed for them, he loved them even as they hated him. He wanted to take their sins upon himself, was willing to endure hell and torture to give them, us, a chance at life. That willingness is the absolute manifestation of higher love, a sacrifice so selfless. The point is, the capability to love in that way is within each of us. God speaks to us: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres…And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. And love acts. We cannot protect the weak without lifting a finger. We cannot reject evil if we see others around us in pain and do nothing to ease that pain. We cannot be selfless without, at some point, putting our own needs behind another’s and inconveniencing ourselves for their improvement. And this cannot occur if we are not walking in love at every moment of our lives and if we are only concerned with the Lord’s work for an hour on Sunday mornings. So to the middle class housewife: if you take the love that God had given you and hoard it away, if you take the light that he has bestowed upon you and cloak it from the world, it will be as if those gifts had never existed in the first place. You may sit pure and sinless in your own eyes, but you will not be participating in the one true thing that God bestowed on us and wished for us: His love.
Posted 3/16/07 (By Travis)
A guest author, Trista Snyder, has given permission to publish one of her essays. Very good stuff! :)
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