Last fall after almost 2 years of countless doctors’ appointments, labs, biopsies, MRIs, CT scans, etc. I finally received a diagnosis, that I have an autoimmune disease for which there is no cure that will leave me in daily pain for the rest of my life and ultimately may be the result my death (that is if that proverbial bus doesn’t hit me, or something like that). Then this spring; on top of all that; I was told I have another neurological disease; Lewy Body Dementia; which means that I have from 5 to 7 years left to live.
We All Have an Expiration Date
The long and short of it is, I realized I have an expiration date. Yes, we all have an expiration date (spoiler alert); we are all going to die. But the fact that there was a relative estimate of the time frame somehow allowed me to have a whole new outlook on life. One I wish I could share with everyone.
God gave us life that is different from any other animal on this planet, he gave us a soul, when he made us in his image. Our soul is a wonderful gift, but also a huge responsibility. I do not want to get into a big debate on what the souls is or is not, but I believe our soul defines or reflects or maybe records who we are. Many may say, that’s our character, others may say that’s just our personality. But, for countless years, across most religions we still know there is something different then, our intellect, our personally, or our character. The word we use to describe it is our soul.
Separate but One
To me a soul is that indescribable spark or energy that we are given at birth that makes humans unique. When King Solomon (a man that had everything) recorded in Ecclesiastes that we are but dust that returns to the ground, he also said that when this happens our spirit returns to God. So, the question that remains, what will your soul have recorded on it when it returns to God.
As I see an end nearing, I know mine has its share of black smudges (also known as sins) on it. Fortunately, I believe that the God that so loved the world that he gave his son for us, has a plan. Please don’t stop reading, I have something different to tell you.
Through Jesus’s life story he shows compassion and love for people of all kinds; poor, rich, sinners, holy rollers also known as Pharisees, Fundamentalist, and gentiles; and he shows us how to walk in our lives with love for each other and love for God. In these times, the example is so relevant.
That’s the good news (or Gospel) that no matter what I do, or what I say, I cannot erase the smudges on my soul. No magical words, no walking out in front of the church, no good actions that I can take or say can change that. What’s done is done.
When you hear the good news of the grace of God (a free gift without strings) it creates faith and hope; my favorite virtue that we change. That change created by a free gift, we can understand the importance of walking in the grace of God.
Many people today want to know more about how to love one another, how to remove hate, prejudice in each other, how to forgive and how to simply live in peace with one another. Unfortunately, far too often religion gets in the way.
Rules and Laws to Live By
Jesus said there are two great commandments “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.” Matthew 22:37-39. If we truly treat others with the compassion and love that we would like to have, what a different world this would be.
I read the Bible in this light. The entire story is about God choosing a people, showing his love, and their rise to glory and fall as they move from faith to laws, to try to self-govern without God, without faith. This story shows the terrible failure that resulted in living by the law, not love, not faith. Then God sent his son to show us how to live, and ultimately sacrifices himself for the entire world. This demonstrated God’s great love for all mankind.
Before Jesus left, he told his disciples to go throughout the world and share the good news, make disciples in his name. He didn’t say converts; he didn’t say church members; he didn’t say exclude all those who are not members of your congregation. No, he told them to go forth to make disciples of all the nations, not just Israel, not just Rome, but of all nations.
Disciples are people who act like and follow in the example of their teacher. Jesus’ disciples walked, listened, and lived with him for three years, and they still got things wrong.
So, my challenge to you this day, is what would you rather be a Christian (i.e., a convert) or a disciple? For me, I choose disciple, not only because I believe that the example of Jesus’ life and love for all people is worth following. The other reason is, frankly, the label of Christian; which; oh, by the way; non-Christians put on people of the early church as a negative connotation; has too many problems of lack of love for all people associated with it.
Yes, no doubt, being a disciple is a lot harder, it takes a lot more from your life than just going to church or giving to a charity. It’s a day by day, hour by hour challenge to live in this world as Jesus teaches us. To love all people, even if they don’t believe like you do, or look like you, or they support a different political point of view.
A disciple strives to walk the talk that they have learned from their teacher. As a disciple of Jesus, you may want to share the good news, share that God loves the world (all the world, all the people regardless of their religion), and that we are forgiven through Jesus. That it is through that grace (a free gift – no strings) that we rejoice in the love of God, the creator of this vast universe with all our hearts.
Good for you, this is a hard to avoid. Just because they don’t jump for joy or share your belief doesn’t mean that God’s love and grace; through Jesus’ sacrifice; doesn’t save them too. Just remember that like the bracelet my kids used to wear ask yourself, “What Would Jesus Do?”
Keep loving them