opinions

Among my family and friends there are those who think I can be something of a busybody, always full of advice… I relish being able to share what I know— even if friends roll their eyes when they see another “expert” opinion coming. “ _Nancy Lindmeyer

One of my quiet time scriptures today came from Titus, chapter 2.1-8:

Your job (Titus) is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine. Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love, and endurance. Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior. Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives.
But mostly, show them all this by doing it yourself, incorruptible in your teaching, your words solid and sane. Then anyone who is dead set against us, when he finds nothing weird or misguided, might eventually come around. The Message Bible

For a long time it was difficult for me to speak out on the things that make for a successful Christian life.  I knew, have known for years, my “job” was to set a positive example for young women, in Christ. The opinions and “expert” advice I had to offer drew the rolled eyes, and sometimes sharp rejection. When I was younger the rejections were hurtful and I questioned my roll as an “older woman” meant to show God’s love, so that “they might eventually come around.”

It took some time and some hard lessons for me to understand that when I tried to share what I know, what I live to the best of my ability every day, they (the daughters in the Lord and the daughters-in-law) heard, “I’m a better person/Christian than you are and this is how you have to change to be what I am.”

NO! Wait! That’s not it at all!

Unfortunately explanations and justification did not change their opinions and many of them moved out of my life, preferring not to hear what I had to say. Even now there is the occasional eye-rolling from those who understand the only goal of my suggestions is God’s best for their life.

I no longer try to explain or justify my position.  I am blessed, mostly because I choose to allow God to bless me; to love me. My opinions and advise come from—always have come from—the position of, “God has done thus and so for me. If God will do thus and so for me, the least deserving of all believers, God will do the same and even more for you.”

The Bible tells me God loves ME!  I didn’t have to work for his love. I don’t  have to earn his love. I am his child by virtue of my belief in Jesus and he loves me because I am his child. What some people don’t seem to realize is that God sent his Son, Jesus, for everyone of us because God loves everyone of us exactly the same.

My opinions and advise are—and always have been—offered as a witness of what great love and abundant grace is available to anyone who believes in Jesus as Lord and Savior.  You don’t have to work for God’s love or earn his love. All that is required: believe that we are loved, because he first loved us…not that we are loved because of how much we love him.

John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, puts it this way:

My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.

My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!

This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.

God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. 1 John 4:7-18 The Message Bible

Today there was a long discussion over on “Chatting at the Sky” about what it’s like to be an introvert in the church and I simply could not help myself…I had to chime in with Nana’s point of view. There is so much pain, rejection, frustration and hurt involved in “the church.” And while I know that church attendance is an important part of Christianity, “we live in God and God lives in us.”

Interesting timing. Today’s scripture and the aforementioned discussion coupled with something I found recently: “Many Christians say, ‘I love God’ with the same enthusiasm as they say ‘I love chocolate’ and with  little understanding of the true meaning of either.”

Okay!  I like chocolate! Who doesn’t?

I LOVE God—to the best of my ability— some days more, some days less. But God loves me (and you) the same; ALL the time, EVERY hour of every day, FOREVER. And I firmly believe, nothing I can do will remove me from his love.

So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us? And who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us!—is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:

They kill us in cold blood because they hate you.
We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one.
None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us. Romans 8:31-39 The Message Bible

 That’s my opinion. And I’m sticking by it!