Have you ever experienced a moment where you felt drawn to something beautiful, but someone else prevented you from pursuing it? It could have been a talent, an opportunity, a craving, or an understanding that just happened to be there. For whatever reason, someone else didn’t want you to run after what you cared about.
Sometimes it is good that we don’t run after everything we just happen to see, but that is not the same as limiting what someone loves. If we actually acknowledge what love is, we know it frees. When people tell others to abandon what they are called to before they’ve even had the chance to cultivate their gifts, it reminds me a lot of the parable of the sower, and those snatched away by false teaching.
If we truly believe God brings all good things, then surely we must be able to acknowledge his magnitude, especially if those who love him use all gifts for the glory of God, who made us. Is it your place to take away a gift that may give glory to God? Does any of us actually understand the breadth of God, that we would dare take those things away? If so, how can you, and what is your secret? None of us get the right of perfect understanding.
So here we are, as humans, and a struggle between what is good and what is easy arises. It is easy to tell others they are wrong, and pursue empty practices that support only your understanding. It is a lot harder to listen. It is a lot harder to be the brunt of anger, when it is necessary to bring healing. It is a lot harder to bear the weight of what caring actually feels like.
Do we ask others to take their faith elsewhere, if they come to worship with us? Do we resent the expression of their faith? If so, why? Do we resent that we don’t understand, or that we can’t control what others believe? Do we resent that they aren’t just like us, and do we only assign approval if they decide to look just like us? Lord help us, I know that discrimination is not in the spirit of Jesus.
It’s one thing to claim the name of Christ, it’s another thing to walk in his spirit. To walk out your love, instead of allowing your labels to speak vaguely for you. If you believe in Jesus and you claim your salvation, you are selling your faith short if others cannot detect his similar character in the way you live your life. Even if they don’t agree with you, they might be able to recognize the fruits of the spirit in the way you lead your life. In my experience, having others live out their faith is almost like a gateway to knowing salvation. If I’m not able to see what Christ would ask of me if I chose to follow him, why would I pick up the cross of someone I can’t even recognize? If we don’t give people points of reference for healthy Christianity and what God’s spirit of love looks like, the gospel will become distorted, and over the course of time, has.
It’s good to have faith when you can’t see it, but that is a supernatural kind of gift that has the potential to happen, but is simply less common. If humans rely on sight and visual representations of the world to understand, what more does it cost us to sacrifice what was only doing us harm in the first place? If you aren’t in a position to take God at his word and you call yourself a Christian, what is your excuse? Being willing to die to sin is part of that job description.
You can’t sever Christ from the mission he came to fulfill and the Spirit he sent to redeem. You can’t play halfsies with God; lukewarm is not his temperature. He doesn’t like people taking his word and diminishing from it, just as much as he resents people trying to complicate the gifts he made freely available through salvation. The trinity means three in one; it doesn’t mean pick one of three. God is.
God makes all things plain after a time, and I bet you $5 he resents those who rely on him for free passes to do sin they have been warned explicitly to avoid. It’s not that God couldn’t pardon all sins, but there is something very fair to cutting off people who take his blessings lightly. I’m not for condemnation, but I do believe in justice, and I believe that God has the sovereignty to both bless and curse. Very few people like “Old Testament” accounts of God, what with the wrath and fire. But does the gifts you are given still retain as much value if people take them for granted, and disobey the one who created all gifts openly? If you can’t appreciate the value of a gift, that ingratitude is it’s own form of curse.