“They will know you by your love.” ~Jesus
See John 13:35
Getting friend requests from random people is the norm on social media now. So when this happens I’ll open up the request, see if the profile isn’t ISIS posing as a 19-year-old “lonely” female, and then take a peek at their timeline and mutual friends. If they aren’t being tagged in Ray-Ban Sunglass memes repeatedly, or sharing lots of political posts, I’ll normally accept the request.
Because of Facebook’s frustrating algorithms, the odds of me even seeing a friend’s post regularly, is rare. Oh how I miss being able to see every person’s–and Page’s post–in order, when they post! Back then–in “the good old days” of Facebook–you didn’t have to worry about not seeing what you wanted to see. Now Facebook determines who and what shows up in your feed. To make matters even worse, if you want to see a Page’s post when they post, or ever, you have to make it a See First. Even then, you can only have so many of those See Firsts…but I digress.
One day I opened up a request from a man, scanned the profile, and accepted. It wasn’t two minutes later I received a message from him insulting a certain group of Christians. From what he was advertising on his timeline, I thought he was a grace guy.
“Oh well,” I said to myself. I took it as no big deal, didn’t reply or agree with him, and got on with my day.
Over the months that followed, I witnessed from this person very condescending, aggressive posts, which “claimed” the backing of God’s grace. I never got involved in any of them, but one day I made a comment and the guy immediately ripped into me. I didn’t respond but twice, and I could feel myself starting to get angry. Anger over grace is a red flag for me to be silent and back off. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I can tell nothing good will come from continuing on.
The Holy Spirit was nudging me to just let it go, while the enemy was doing the opposite. I chose self-control and moved along. I’m guessing this man wanted to keep letting me know how amazing his knowledge was about God’s grace because he messaged me privately once I unfollowed the post. I didn’t respond to that message either.
Crossing my boundaries once more, he messaged me again. I blocked him.
Still feeling the need to make sure I believed exactly like he did, he messaged me on my Facebook ministry Page. I overlooked that paragraph too. I marked it as “read” and didn’t even scan it. Yet again he messaged me in a private email on my ministry website. Like his other correspondences, I didn’t allow myself to look at what he typed up. The first sentence of each message was enough to know his disdain for my thoughts about God’s grace–and about me.
Why was this man so rude about letting me know how right he was about God’s grace, yet he refused to give that very same grace away to me? I don’t know. That’s something he will have to figure out with God. But I do know this: I wasn’t about to take the bait and retaliate.
For too many years of my life I would have spent hours being ungraceful about God’s grace to this person who didn’t understand God’s grace. Do you see my hypocrisy? I lived out my faith refusing to give away the grace in which I was so passionate about receiving. Then I went from one extreme to the other. I started to act like a grace hippie and completely ignored unacceptable behavior. My past struggles with codependency issues inflamed this out-of-balance time in my life. My mind was being renewed and I didn’t understand yet that God wants us to be gracefully well-balanced. When we’re not, the enemy can get his way with our actions and attitudes (see 1 Peter 5:8).
Jesus said people will know us by our love, not by our “awesome” biblical knowledge or our interpretation of biblical knowledge (see John 5:39, 13:35). Even if we think our knowledge is graceful, love is the true barometer. I’ve witnessed some Christians enamored with the grace of God–they get it. Yet they absolutely refuse to give that same grace away to those who disagree with them about the White House.
I did this. Just looking back on my Facebook memories from the last election and reading some of my posts I cringe. “What was my problem? Why did I have to say that so rudely?” I had forgotten who I was. I could have easily said things in a more graceful way and got the same points across. But condescending remarks is exactly what happens when we attempt to express ourselves without grace.
Even when we are setting healthy boundaries, grace can be the foundation. When it’s not, we have forgotten our true selves. Peter explains this truth to the early Christians:
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.” (2 Peter 1:5-9)
So today, my friends, know this: Don’t forget that you have been cleansed. Remembering this will allow your knowledge of Christ to increase. The truth is, no Christian is a grace jerk. When we act like grace jerks that’s exactly what we’re doing–acting. No part of our true self is rude! No part of our true self is condemning or impatient! No part of our true self has to angrily defend ourselves! We love people–from the heart! We don’t have to straighten everyone out! Our job is to simply express Christ at all times, and this happens naturally as we just be ourselves. So Christian, be you.
A prayer for you: Father, thank you for teaching me more about who I am. I am full of your grace! It’s been an amazing journey to understanding there’s no pressure on me to iron-out the world’s view of you. You’ve got that handled just fine! Your Spirit is the only true and authentic Teacher! Right now, I lift up all who are reading this, directly to you. Dad, please reveal to these dear readers that they will expose you in the greatest ways possible, by loving people. Grace flows FROM your love, and when we feel the most like ourselves, it’s when we are loving people. Open up the minds of those who have forgotten who they are! HEAL the minds of those who have been hurt by others who were incorrectly expressing your love! Bring us all together so we can change the world WITH your love and grace! In Christ’s name, amen.
This devotional is from The Christian Identity, Volume 1. Get your copy here!