Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Should I Serve You Even Though You're Different?

There are times I struggle with writing from the heart. I want to be obedient to my Jesus. I want to serve Him with the gifts that He has given me. But being transparent isn't always pleasant. What if some are offended? I have gone back and forth about writing this. Some may understand. Some may agree. Some may attack. But what I can share with you is that this is my conviction. 

We are called to serve. Who is that we serve? As I have studied scripture the word I am continually seeing is ALL. Not a select few. Not just those I like. Not those who I can gain something in return. I am to serve those around me with the sweet love of Jesus. 

Let's say I am the owner of a bakery. Okay, now, how sweet would that be? If I could bake that might be a possibility. Not a gift of  mine, but one I can surely work on. Now, I've owned my shop for ten years. I have built a great business. I have a connection with the community. I love my bakery. Love my customers. It is connecting with others that I think I love the most. To give a cup cake to someone brightens their day. To create the cake of a bride's dream brings joy to my heart. 

Now, since I'm known in the community, most everyone knows that I am a Christian. They know my convictions and hopefully that know that I am a woman of God. Not just through word, but in deed. I have decorated my shop with a Christian theme. With each purchase, as I had the receipt over, I am hoping that the hand it has gone to will read the scripture attached to each receipt. For those who purchase cakes from me, I send out a card of gratitude. Not just any card, but one that shares the love of Jesus. Yes, although God has gifted me with the talent of baking, He too has given me the heart of a mercy. The hands of a servant. 

But what happens the day a gay couple enters my shop and asks me to bake them a wedding cake? Now, everything I claim to be. Everything about me will either shine Jesus or the hate and judgement of the world. Now, as a Christian, I know without a doubt that homosexuality is a sin. If I take part in this am I too sinning? Do I boldly stand in my convictions about sin? 

Well, let's just say I don't serve them because of their sin. I might as well shut the doors to my bakery, because every soul that enters my shop is a sinner. So, where does my service begin and end? As an American citizen I can serve whomever I choose. I have the right to turn away anyone. But as a Christian is it the same for me? 

See, as this couple enters my shop, they share with me that they have heard how wonderful my cakes are and would be honored if I could bake them a cake for the special day they have chosen. If I turn them away am I showing them the love of Jesus? 

Now, I don't have to attend the wedding. I don't have to agree with the standard in which they are living. In fact, I simply don't have to like them at all. See, as a Christian, I want them to leave my shop with more than just a cake. The more people I serve the more opportunities I have to share the love of Christ. 

As I have shared with you, these are my convictions. This is the message that I am hearing. So, let me share a few verses with you before I continue. 

"For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without the law, as without the law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those we who are without the law; to the weak I became as the weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel's sake, that I may be partaker of it with you." 1 Corinthians 9:19-23

"All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience' sake; for "the earth is the Lord's, and  all its fullness." If any of those who do not believe invites you to dinner, and you desire to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience' sake. but if anyone says to you, "This was offered to idols," do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience' sake; for "the earth is the Lord's and all its fullness." "Conscience," I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man's conscience? But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks? Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved. Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ." 1 Corinthians 10:23-33` 11:1

"For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall over your neighbor as yourself." But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another." Galatians 5:13-15

Friends, I don't claim to have all the answers. But what I do know is that we are not going to open the door for people to receive Jesus unless the world sees those who follow Christ as the Christ followers we claim to be. We are to be in the people business and leave the soul business to Christ. Our outright judging others isn't winning for the cause. We pick out a few sins and stake a claim on those, forgetting all others. 

What about serving the town gossip? What about the man of God who drinks in secret? Should I too turn him away? What about the church secretary who takes home a few extras without thought? What about the condemning eyes of the judgmental Sunday school teacher who watches through her window at all the happenings and then starts the prayer chain with the latest news? The man who goes home after work and slaps his wife because dinner isn't on the table at 5:00. The woman having an affair with the owner of the local car lot. Can we admit that most of our sins are in secret? We go home at night and close the blinds as we scream at our children and watch television shows about demons and vampires. We get out the ice cream at night and before we know it the entire carton has disappeared before our very eyes. Over eating is a sin. Friends, isn't it time we stopped judging people and started loving? Isn't it time we get off our judgmental goggles and learn to see through the eyes of Jesus?  

How are we going to reach a world for Christ if we continue to turn people away? By serving people who are different than us, doesn't mean we agree with their life style. It means we agree with what our Lord compels us to do. Serve with love. To serve all.

Whether you are serving in a bakery, the local grocer, or wherever you have chosen to serve the public in some capacity. Shouldn't we simply serve with a loving heart? It doesn't matter who comes across our path, who enters into our life, if we are a believer, our life belongs to Christ. Serving gives us an opportunity to live out Jesus to the world. It gives others an opening to see that we are different. It gives opportunity for others to ask questions. For me to invite them to church or a christian function. We have to give way for that door to the world to be opened. 

Paul wasn't hindered by culture. He didn't allow differences to stop him from reaching out and preaching the Word of God. We cannot just accommodate to those like us. The point is, we must reach out to those who are not like us. We must not limit our God by our hang ups. We cannot box our God in and move in just our sweet, little circle of people. We need to serve without seeing sinners. We can learn to serve with love and grace. Who am I to judge another? Half the time I'm living in the flesh, when I should be living in the Spirit. 

I can impact my community through serving in my bakery. I can do more in serving than I can in turning someone away. Do I have that right to turn people away? In America today, yes we do. Our rights are being changed. Things are being forced upon us that shouldn't be. But how do we win in that battle? Isn't Satan the winner when all we do is fight and bicker? Nothing comes from acting in the flesh. It is when we listen and obey the Spirit that He moves and touches the hearts of those we serve. 

What happens when I bake the most beautiful cake I've yet to create and I serve this cake to this couple? I send with them a card. I have opened my heart and shared love. I also send, in my own way, scripture that leads to receiving Jesus as Savior. I have opened the door to make a connection. I now have two hearts I can pray for. I now have opened my own heart to Christ and have allowed myself to be used as His vessel. No one knows what will happen down the road. It could be weeks, months, years, but change can happen. Nothing is impossible when we share the love of Christ.

As a Christian I would be hurt if I walked into a place of business and they refused my service for whatever reason it is. What are we saying when we turn someone away? I don't understand you. I don't believe in you. I don't want anything to do with you. You are different from me. You are not a believer. Friends, there is judgement on both ends of this spectrum. But shouldn't it be different for those who believe? 

Serving the world doesn't mean we accept sin. We shouldn't accept any sin. Sin is sin. We tend to forget that. Aren't we to look at the heart of man? Isn't that what we are aiming for? Without Jesus aren't we all dead in sin? How do we reach out to a world we are not willing to serve? What was the cross about then? Jesus didn't just die for those few. He died for all. He wanted all to come to know Him as Savior. We can share Jesus through the gifts He has given us. Where would I be if someone hadn't reached out to me? I would still be lost. 

"But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. for the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7

Change comes when we are willing to change ourselves. It takes courage to change. We must humble ourselves and realize that it isn't all about us. It is about our Jesus. When given opportunity how often do we intercede for others? Can we have conversations with those who are different from us? My husband and I have a little joke between us that we say; "It is a darn shame the world cannot be as perfect as we are." Ouch! It really is easier to see the sins of others before we see our own. It isn't up to us to condemn people. We share the love of Jesus and it is up to Him to convict the heart. Conviction and condemnation are two different things. And friends, Jesus didn't come to condemn. 

"For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." John 3:17

Serving isn't about my opinion or how uncomfortable I am. We are to listen to the Spirit. We cannot expect from others what we ourselves are not willing to do. So, in my service I must continue to walk in the Spirit and allow Him to direct me. Jesus works in miraculous ways. When we give Him the room in our lives that He needs, wow, the possibilities are endless! I pray that as others cross my path they see a girl who loves Jesus. A Jesus who saved a wretch like me. 


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