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Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves (New International Version, Rom. 12.10) 1.
Hey there, friends!
We’re moving right along in our series. If you’re just joining us, I encourage you to go back and read Part 1 & Part 2 before diving into today’s message. It will make much more sense. Without further ado, let’s talk about love.
3) Christians just want you to know what they know because they love you.
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love ( 1 John 4.7-8) 2.
Sometimes in our excitement over God, we end up bulldozing those around us that are still trying to find their way. Many Christians simply want to tell you about God because they have experienced so much love, joy, and peace from Him and they want you to experience the same. For these Christians, the goal is not to make you think the same way or push an agenda on you (however, I am sensitive to the fact that some people push God on others for ungodly reasons in ungodly ways – this is usually a mark of unease and immaturity within that person and has nothing to do with you and is a misrepresentation of Christ).
These excited Christians just want the best for you. However, in the pursuit to tell you what they know, it can easily come off as offensive, overwhelming, and overbearing. Understanding the heart behind their words, behaviors, and actions is helpful. Respecting the process in others, which is often slow, is a mark of maturity. It took me years to reign in my overflowing outpouring of joy to a place where I could still experience that joy within myself and my Christian community but have respect for the process in other people still searching for understanding.
Bottom line, I was impatient for others to “get it”.
I was bubbling over with excitement to anyone and everyone. If I was talking to someone like-minded, it wasn’t a problem. But put someone in front of me who was not a believer, skeptical, or just trying to understand the basics of the Christian faith, and I had a deer in headlights. Or total avoidance.
Not good and not at all what I intended.
These days, 17 years into my walk with Christ, sharing my faith looks much different. I’m still just as excited as I was in my younger years – actually, much more so. I still invite people to church, or to the bible study I lead out of my home, to attend an event, or to come have coffee with me. I get crazy excited and teary-eyed when someone is baptized or proclaims Christ as Savior and Lord…and I know all of heaven is celebrating too.
But, with that said, if they say no, or change the subject, I don’t push. I respect them and continue to wait patiently for God to work. I know they will accept my invitation, or someone else’s, when they are ready and their heart has been prepared.
I’m content to be patient with others like others have been patient with me.
I love questions from new believers or those that are seeking and I do my best to answer them respectfully and always with a heart led by the Spirit…but the rest of the process is up to God. The responsibility lies with Him and the timing is between the two of you alone. I cannot make someone understand God, find God, know God, or love God. God handles all those details 3. But I can patiently, lovingly, gently, and willingly point others to God and come alongside them in their walk. I can demonstrate Him in my life to serve as a witness to others. I can be vulnerable and authentic.
So, if you know an extremely excited Christian who is mowing you down with their enthusiasm (good or not so good), grant them grace and understand they are actually speaking love to you and they don’t mean to be disrespectful. Love can even masquerade as anger or frustration, thinking we know best, and the delivery of the message may be downright wrong (unfortunately, I have done this in years past – Lord, forgive me).
These Christians, meaning to communicate love, are just impatient with the process. Over time, they will learn to share their faith with patience and in a manner that you appreciate and understand. We are ALL on a spiritual walk and will continue to grow in our maturity as long as we live.
Some are further along than others.
So, if someone you know doesn’t seem to be growing emotionally and spiritually at this time, this is okay and part of their own walk with God. Remember, it’s a process. But I encourage you not to avoid Christians or discussions about Christianity altogether because of one person (or more) who may have overwhelmed, offended, or hurt you.
Rather, keep your eyes peeled for a trustworthy, spiritually and emotionally mature Christian friend in your sphere of influence who does know how to discuss the Lord respectfully and in love, meaning they give you the time and space to process on your own, while also being sensitive to what makes you you (your background, race, ethnicity, where you came from, etc). You will know them by the way they conduct their lives, show love and respect for others, and speak their hearts with truth and grace. I promise you, your experience with this person will be different and a positive one. Conversations will be easy, open, honest, safe, and always when you are ready.
See you tomorrow, my friends!
With love and In Christ,
- The Bible. New International Version. Bible Gateway/Biblica, 2011. BibleGateway.com, www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=romans+12%3A10&version=NIV Accessed 8 Dec. 2018.
- The Bible. New International Version. Bible Gateway/Biblica, 2011. BibleGateway.com, www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+john+4%3A7-8&version=NIV. Accessed 8 Dec. 2018.
- See Jeremiah 29:13.