Jesus and Paul and the Judgers and the Warm Welcomers

Photo of worshippers by Dennis Jarvis — Creative Commons via flickr

God Running is a place for anyone who wants to love Jesus more deeply, follow Jesus more closely, and love people the way Jesus wants us to.

Acts 18:4

And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks.

Acts 18:4

The Judgers and the Warm Welcomers

I heard a beautiful testimony the other day from a woman I’ll call Maria. She was going to church, but, she hadn’t really read the Bible much, and she was living a promiscuous lifestyle. Maria talked about her life outside of Christ in some detail but the phrase that stood out to me was “…all these men.” There were “…all these men,” was the way she described it. And yet, she was going to church.

During that time, even though she was attending church regularly, she said she felt judged by the people in that church.

And then she encountered Jesus. And she started reading her Bible. And Maria said as she read the scriptures she came to realize she was sinning. She realized she was outside of God’s will.

So she changed direction.

And her friends didn’t like it.

“What about relationships?” they said.

“I have to be a chaste single woman,” Maria answered.

As Jesus and Maria became more and more connected, Maria realized there must be some next steps she should take as a Christ follower. But she didn’t know what those next steps should be. She needed counsel from people who follow Jesus closely.

But where could she find such people?

She found them in church.

She found families who “adopted” her and her two grade school age kids. She found deep friendships. She found people who were warm and welcoming and who resembled Jesus. And these people helped her with her next steps.

The thing is, the church where she found the warm welcomers is the same church where she felt judged. It was the same church, but it was a different Maria.

Today Maria is sold out for Jesus. And she serves Christ as a teacher in a Christian high school.

Paul and Jesus and Church

In today’s verse we see that Paul and Jesus had something in common. They both attended Synagogue regularly, religiously.

Am I, are you, more just, honest, innocent, and faultless than Jesus or Paul?

Do you or I even know of anyone in our life right now who’s more just, honest, innocent, and faultless than Jesus or Paul?

These two, they disagreed with much of what was taught in their “church” if you will.

But they regularly participated and engaged there anyway.

And to her credit, so did Maria.

And so should you.

And so should I.

“Father, have mercy on us and help us to be committed to our church community the way Jesus and Paul were committed. And help us to be engaged and connected to Jesus the way Paul was connected to Jesus. And help us to see the people in our church the way Maria saw the people in her church after she became close to Jesus. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit to accomplish these things in us Father. If You’re willing You can do these things for us. Please be willing.”


Photo of worshippers by Dennis Jarvis — Creative Commons via flickr

Available on Amazon! Love Like Jesus: How Jesus Loved People (and how you can love like Jesus) Love Like Jesus begins with the story of how after a life of regular church attendance and Bible study, Bennett was challenged by a pastor to study Jesus. That led to an obsessive seven year deep dive. After pouring over Jesus’ every interaction with another human being, he realized he was doing a much better job of studying Jesus’ words than he was following Jesus’ words and example. The honest and fearless revelations of Bennett’s own moral failures affirm he wrote this book for himself as much as for others. Love Like Jesus examines a variety of stories, examples, and research, including:

  • Specific examples of how Jesus communicated God’s love to others.
  • How Jesus demonstrated all five of Gary Chapman’s love languages (and how you can too).
  • The story of how Billy Graham extended Christ’s extraordinary love and grace toward a man who misrepresented Jesus to millions.
  • How to respond to critics the way Jesus did.
  • How to love unlovable people the way Jesus did.
  • How to survive a life of loving like Jesus (or how not to become a Christian doormat).
  • How Jesus didn’t love everyone the same (and why you shouldn’t either).
  • How Jesus guarded his heart by taking care of himself–he even napped–and why you should do the same.
  • How Jesus loved his betrayer Judas, even to the very end.

With genuine unfiltered honesty, Love Like Jesus, shows you how to live a life according to God’s definition of success: A life of loving God well, and loving the people around you well too. A life of loving like Jesus. (Kindlehardcover, and paperback now available on Amazon.)

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: