This isn't love, in my opinion. I'm not saying it's wrong to teach truth or the Bible. I'm simply saying that there is much more to "winning souls" than preaching. In fact, love can do it all. I truly believe this is why Jesus tells us to love God, and love others (including enemies).
Cramming the Bible Down One's Throat Does Not WorkI grew up being taught that if we don't follow the Bible, and all the laws, we're going to hell. If we continue sinning, we're going to hell. If we don't repent with every sin we do happen to commit, we're going to hell. I grew up having the Bible/religion crammed down my throat. It didn't change me for the better.
Even up until a few years ago, I had people criticizing me for my lack of religion, saying my family was horrible because we didn't go to Church. Saying that we were going to go to hell if we didn't wise up. And, the more they criticized, the more I fell away from God. The more they tried to cram the Bible down my throat, the more distaste I had for it.
But one word changed that. Only one (although granted, this one word came from God and was of God and was God). But, the word itself wasn't God. It wasn't Bible. It wasn't Scripture. It wasn't Church. It wasn't Law. It wasn't Jesus.
It was Love.A couple years ago, I cringed when I found out a pastor was going on a Youth Group retreat with us. I was along as a chaperone... and wanted to back out when I found out he would be there. I didn't have much trust in pastors at the time, or in religion in general. The only reason I agreed to go was that my kids enjoyed the Youth Group, and the one was too young to go without a parent. But oh did I just have a bad taste in my mouth and mind at the thought of spending three days with a pastor.
This man was not the pastor of my church, but did know about me and my family. He knew through gossip some of my faults (non-Church goer being only one of them). But on this trip, he never once tried to cram the Bible or religion down my throat. Not even close. He simply carried on a conversation with me, and joked with me, and listened to me. For a couple days, which included 3 hours trapped in a vehicle with him, we simply got to know one another, not as Christians, but as humans.
After this trip, we continued our friendship, and he continued to be there for me. And through it all, he offered me something simple, but rare - love and acceptance. There was never any judgement. There was never any form of negative reaction. No matter what I said or did, he offered me love and acceptance. He never said "quit sinning." He never said "that's against God and the Bible." He never pointed out Scripture passages to tell me I was doing something wrong. He offered me love and acceptance.
Within six months of this trip, we were planning a "new member" service at his church to welcome me and my family to their congregation. Within six months of my seeing that love and acceptance truly exist, I was changing many of my old habits, and was a regular at church services. Within 6 months of this trip, I started my Sermons from a Psycho blog to tell my story and relationship with God, and give me a place to continue learning and developing this relationship.
Within a year, I was attending Bible Study quite regularly, helping out at the church, teaching Sunday School, reading Scripture in and out of Church, and so much more. Within a year, I was understanding the concept of Christian fellowship and developed a love for prayer and helping others. Within a year, I found myself not wanting to sin, but rather wanting to walk on the path to God; and found myself confessing and repenting willingly when I did screw up - not out of fear of hell or because I felt I had to... because I wanted to. And none of this happened because I was told I had to. None of it happened because Scripture was shoved down my throat.
It happened because one man showed me true Christian love and acceptance.This pastor and I are now really good friends, even though he's no longer the pastor of my Church. And he will now quote scripture to me, or give me a verbal smack upside the head when I'm being stupid. But I still recognize the love and acceptance the most - even when he tells me I have done something wrong, it's said with respect and love and acceptance; and never with anger or criticism.
He is the reason I continue to strive for a closer relationship with God. He is the reason I want to shout from the rooftops about God's love and God's message to all. He is the one I want to emulate. He is the reason this blog exists and the reason I go to Church.
And it's all because he gave me something rare and beautiful - Love.