As I have watched the news recently, especially the situation of marriage licenses and Kim Davis in Kentucky, I have many thoughts that have come through my head. But one of the biggest is that at the core of what is happening is how do we live out our faith every day? How does our faith impact our behavior in the workplace, home life, and our role in the larger community?
I feel that the best way to live out our faith, at least to me, is based on four different scripture passages. I believe that these scripture passages can help us as we work day to day to live as disciples of Jesus Christ.
We start at the heart: our salvation.
8For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— 9not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. Ephesians 2:8-10
We must always remember that our salvation does not depend on our own work but only on the work of Christ. Because of what Christ has done for us, we are free to live our lives for good works, not to earn any sort of favor, but in thankful and faithful response of the gift of salvation given to us by the grace of God in Christ Jesus. It is extremely helpful to me to remember every day that I’m saved by grace through faith. Everything starts from there.
36“Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37He said to him, “’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38This is the greatest and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40
This scripture reminds me of what my center should be. The center is to love the Lord, the same Lord who has already saved and redeemed me. But my center also rests on loving my neighbor as myself. And who is your neighbor? Everyone. Everyone is your neighbor. Everyone deserves love. Everyone deserves respect. Everyone is my neighbor.
1 Corinthians 9:19-23
For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. 20To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. 21To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law. 22To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. 23I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.
So, we are freed from all things through the work of Christ, saved by the grace of God through faith, and called to love our neighbor as ourselves. So what does this love look like? It is to not only be a servant, but to become like our neighbor, to understand them. In this passage from 1st Corinthians, Paul talks about becoming all things to all people so that they might be saved, so that they might know the love of God. It is about understanding our neighbor, putting ourselves in their shoes, and showing compassion. It is not about putting ourselves above our neighbor, but in the same shoes as your neighbor, just as Christ enters into our sinfulness to bring us to everlasting life.
Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. 2For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get. 3Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?
In the end, what connects us all is that we are sinful. We all make mistakes. To judge someone else is to not only ignore your own sinfulness, but also to exclude them from community. It doesn’t matter what has gone on in their lives. In Christ, forgiveness is there for everyone. So why do we exclude instead of include? Why do we think that we are better than the person next to us? Why do we constantly say that we are somehow morally superior? Judgement is reserved for God alone. I hope that we all live as disciples of Jesus Christ and make good decisions that benefit our community, ourselves, and most especially, our neighbor. But when we fail, or when our neighbor fails, instead of banishing them to the depths of hell, we should embrace them and remind them that there is hope in Jesus Christ. For when we judge others, we judge ourselves.
So, if I was going to sum this all up, it would be this: we are saved by God’s grace, called to love and be a servant to our neighbor, and to leave the judging to God. And, if we fail at all of these things, which we probably will, to trust in the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ. Amen.