1If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, 6who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, 7but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, 8he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death even death on a cross. 9Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 12Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
It is always amazing to see what is in my YouTube feed. Some make sense, such as cooking videos since I watch a few food channels. Others, however, make me scratch my head. I’ve been getting a lot of links about who is or is not a Christian. Now these are not videos where someone states their faith, rather a specific evangelist who has taken it upon himself to declare who is “in” or “out” of the Kingdom of Heaven. He looks at popular culture and then declares if a celebrity is saved or not. Wow.
While I have a lot of personal thoughts about this, I turn to scripture. Paul tells us to imitate Christ, and that includes having a little mercy, forgiveness and…humility. It is not my (or anyone else’s) job to declare someone saved or unsaved – God alone knows the heart.
As a pastor, I have done many funerals and never declared anyone damned – quite frankly that is not my role. My role is to show God’s love through the reading and teaching of the scriptures as well as my example. I preach hope not damnation.
Afterall, Paul tells us to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, not be so assured that we can go about damning others.
This Wednesday we begin the season of Lent, a season to slow down and consider our relationship with God. I ask you all to take this season to do so – to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, and to grow more Christ-like. Who knows, maybe by doing this, we all may show God’s love to someone who really needs to see it.