Teach "Do," not "Don't"
Recently in my education class, we have been learning how to effectively teach students. One way my professor has told us, is to teach the class by showing multiple examples of how to do something correctly and not by showing them now how to do it. My professor gave of the example of bank employees. Bank employees must know what real money looks like so they don’t deposit counterfeit bills. Most people would think they study and know what counterfeit money looks like, but in reality, bankers study what real money looks like. They learn how it feels and what it looks like. They become so familiar with the real thing that they’ll automatically be able to pick out the fake. So relating this back to a classroom, I wouldn’t continuously teach my students the wrong verb tenses. Instead, I would use examples of verbs used correctly so that when they see one that doesn’t look correct, they’ll know it’s wrong. Children, and really everyone, learn better by following a model that is correct. Does that make any sense?
Well, I got to thinking. Why don’t we do that in our Christian community? I grew up in the church. I’ve heard (and tried to obey) all the “rules.” “Don’t wear skimpy clothes.” “Don’t judge.” “Don’t lie.” “Don’t talk behind someone’s back.” “Don’t hate.” We as Christians know these rules mean, “Dress modestly.” “Get to know the person you’re about to judge.” “Tell the truth.” “Speak positively about people-whether they are in front or behind you.” “Love each other.” But that’s not what an unbeliever sees. They see a bunch of rules telling them what not to do, because that’s what we teach in the church. And honestly, I think unbelievers see Christians either living hypocritical lives or condemning unbelievers.
And honestly, how does a bunch of rules of telling us what not to do help us? These rules allow us to tiptoe right up to the line without crossing it. We can stick our toes in without completely jumping in. I know I’m guilt of that. I have definitely struggled with thinking, “As long as I don’t do this, this and this I’ll be good. I can still be considered a Christian.” But that’s not how Christians are called to live. We are called to lives completely sold out for God. We are supposed to live in a way that looks strange to the rest of the world. (“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” -Romans 12:1-2). Girls, we are to love our brothers well by watching how we dress. Guys, you are called to live above reproach and to live a life of self-control (I could go on and on about this, but that’s for another day).
We know that no one is allowed to judge except Christ. There is no reason that we should. We all struggle with sin and no sin is greater than the next. So before you point out a flaw in someone else, looks at your own life (“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3) We know we are supposed to tell the truth is all circumstances. And not just cold, hard truth-although some situations do call for that. We are called to speak the truth in LOVE (“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” –Ephesians 4:15). Because truth is hard to hear sometimes, but when you know it comes because of love, it’s a little easier to swallow. I feel like such a persistent message in God’s Word is LOVE. God is love. In my middle school English class, we learned that is is a linking verb, with linking verb you can suppose “equals” and it shows that the noun is the same as the adjective described. In this case, God EQUALS love. He doesn’t have love, He IS love.
And He loves us with that love and calls us to love others with the love He graciously gives us. So really, this love we give isn’t really ours. It’s God’s. Right? I’m no theology major, so I could totally be wrong about this, but we’ll go with it. Since it’s God’s, we can’t really decide who is worthy of God’s love. Why are you the one to judge who gets to receive the love of an almighty, all-powerful God? You aren’t.
That’s why we are called to love everyone, because we don’t know everyone’s story, but we do know that they need God’s love. And how do you know that? Because you know (or should) that you certainly don’t deserve God’s love. You’ve messed up some things but still God chooses to love you and save you daily. Since you’ve been given this love, why wouldn’t you share it? Why wouldn’t you want others to know of this love? It saved your life.