You can be a person that can communicate the good news of the gospel to people who have no idea of what they are missing out on. People who have problems with God.
4th Sunday In Lent
In 1995 Nicholas Evans published a novel entitled “The Horse Whisperer.”
Three years later the story was made into a movie directed by and starring Robert Redford. In Evans’ story the “whisperer” is a man who is able to establish a unique, trusting relationship between human and horse.
Without spurs or whips, without harsh words or tactics, the “horse whisperer” is able to communicate with the animal and change the horse’s behavior.
“I heard you help people who have problems with horses.”
“No ma’am, I help horses with people problems.”
Today I want to tell you the secret of being a Jesus Whisperer. You can be a person that can communicate the good news of the gospel to people who have no idea of what they are missing out on. People who have problems with God. As an added bonus the secret also aligns you with the cross. Alignment to the cross shapes you along the lines of God’s intentions for you. There is also a statement I want you to keep in mind, in fact, I suggest you think it through and make it part of the guidelines you live your life by. Tolerance and Acceptance do not mean Affirmation.
Tolerance—everyone is entitled to their own opinion regardless how wrong it is.
Opinion stretches to race, creed, political positions, gun control, pro-life, for the death penalty, being a sanctuary state, building a mall, paying taxes.
Acceptance—I don’t have to change your opinion. I don’t have to wipe your opinion from the face of the earth and everyone who looks like you, thinks like you, talks like you. I don’t have to throw you out of the group. I don’t have to demonize you, marginalize you, disregard you, polarize you. Acceptance means I see your worth as a human being far past your stupid ideas.
Non- Affirmation—While I can tolerate and accept I do not have to approve.In my tolerance and acceptance, I do not have to offer emotional support nor encouragement
, nor ratify, endorse nor sanction your opinions or behaviors.
Refusal to affirm does not mean excommunication, banning, refusing entry, putting
up the no longer welcome sign. Non-affirmation simply means I don’t have to make you feel good by agreeing with you.
Tolerance and Acceptance do not mean Affirmation.
Making this your practice will help you be a Jesus Whisperer.
The gospel proclaims
John 3:16 (MSG)
This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone
can have a whole and lasting life.
The Lenten season, the time between Ash Wednesday and Easter is a time when as followers of Jesus we spend time contemplating self-sacrificing love. I read this week these words from Martin Luther: “If you ‘ve got nothing worth dying for, you’ve got nothing worth living for.” Or maybe the quote is “If a man has not discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live.” Regardless of which quote is correct the only thing I can think of that is worth dying for is the people I love.
The mystery that the scripture reveals is that the Father and the Son are one.
It is a very difficult concept to get your head around and every time I have tried to come up with an answer as to how this can be, I have failed. To complicate the issue we also believe that Father, Son, and Spirit are one. What this means is the Son, the man Jesus of Nazareth is God in the flesh, the technical term is God incarnate. In a very real sense God who created you takes responsibility for you, dies for you, so you can be reconciled to Him and live. Dying for the people He loves.
You may be able to get a better feel for the Apostle Paul who wrote:
1 Corinthians 1:18 & 23 (NIV)
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. …we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles…
Because of love, God made the sacrifice that could put things back on track, so that anyone who would simply believe and follow could have whole and lasting life, life eternal.
There are a lot of Christian people who condemn sin when they see it in others. They are neither tolerant or accepting and definitely not affirming. They are not Jesus Whisperers. They are incapable of speaking to others different than themselves.
You know John 3:16. To be a Jesus Whisperer love has to be your motivation. Love seeking to meet the need of another. Then there is John 3:17 which gives us the second part of the secret.
John 3:17 (MSG)
God didn't go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again.
No accusing finger—tolerance and acceptance, then there is only the gentleness of divine correction, the tenderness of offering a new way, a new relationship that leads to salvation for all who trust “in the name of the only Son of God.” God did not send Jesus to condemn, but to correct and cure. That’s the good news. Love to correct and cure.
God does not condemn the world for its sins and failures. God sends the ultimate in divine love in the form of the Son to offer a new way of salvation for humanity,
a corrective path, a fresh road to a reconciled relationship with God.
Correction, not condemnation, is the message of Jesus the Messiah. Correction, not condemnation, is the message of the cross. God’s message to the world is one of love, of compassion, and of “parental” correction. Tolerance, Acceptance and Loving Correction.
Do you happen to have one of those family members that are a little off, maybe way off, outside the norm of your bell curve? They may have bad habits,
Crazy attachments or nasty addictions. They may be demeaning sarcastic, rude, overbearing, controlling, complaining, maybe doing something that is personally destructive. Three things you can do about their bad behavior.
You can ignore it.
The Ostrich Imitation, pay no attention and the problem will go away —which is not a great response because in my experience the bad behavior just gets WORSE!
Tolerance and acceptance doesn’t mean affirmation, but it also doesn’t mean to can ignore the situation in hopes they will change for the better
You can condemn it.
Meet Fire with Fire. You can deliver ultimatums. Break off all connections.
Its tough love to throw the bum out. In my experience such condemnation ensures that nothing will get better, and everything will get worse in the relationship.
You know well that everything rises and falls on relationships. If your relationships are good, life is good, and if even one relationship in your life is bad, it's like a rose thorn that gets stuck in your pinky finger. Tolerance and acceptance don’t mean affirmation, but it also doesn’t mean you can condemn the other person in hopes your tough love will change the other person.
Now I must take a side street here at this point. There are some behaviors that are so destructive physically, emotionally, spiritually, that you may need to end a relationship to protect yourself and those you love. There are some behaviors so heinous that they must not be tolerated or accepted but require full censure.
What those behaviors might be is up for your faith community to help you decided.
Tolerance and acceptance don’t mean affirmation and also it doesn’t mean ignoring some thought or behavior or condemning it.
The third thing you can do about their bad behavior is You can lovingly correct.
The cross whispers deeds of love offering gentle correction and a redemptive cure. That’s the gospel way, Jesus’ way. The only people in the Bible whom Jesus is intolerant and unaccepting of where the religious self-righteous. I guess that in Jesus’s faith community such actions were considered heinous. Jesus condemned bad religion. He drove the marketplace out of the praying place in the Temple.
He rained down criticism upon those in high places who rejected or twisted the Word of the Lord. But with day-to-day sinners, Jesus only offered a gentle correction, not condemnation. With the woman at the well, Jesus only offered her a new way to draw water, not a judgment on her living arrangements. With Martha, Jesus did not condemn her for her sourpuss attitude, but merely corrected her vision, showing her a new way to look at her role as servant and at Mary’s role as learner. Jesus never condemned Martha, only gently corrected her grumpiness and jealousy.
We are all born self-obsessed. We swim in a pond of egoism. We can become impressed with our own prowess and abilities to sustain ourselves, without any outside help. We know what is right, what is wrong.Just like Archie Bunker, Gordon Ramesy, Don Drapper, Peter Griffin, Nancy Pelosi, Al Bundy, Frank Constanza, Donald Trump, Dexter Morgan, Whoppi Goldberg and Laura Ingram.
So why should we listen to anyone but our own selves? Why should we curtail our self-absorbed freedom to listen to another voice? No ma’am—I don’t work with people who have horse problems, I work with horses that have people problems.
The Jesus Whisperer uses deeds and a gentle, tender voice holding out the promise of another way for people to live, a different relationship with the One who claims they love them. It’s a voice of correction, not condemnation. It’s a voice of cure, not judgement. It is the voice that calls us to something beyond ourselves. Something worth dying for that we can truly live.
God has given you such a voice. If you are a believer. If you are one of the ones who have believed the gospel, then God has given you a voice that caringly corrects. You do believe? You are following? If not, I ask you if you can hear that still small voice of loving and compassion calling you to enter into a right relationship with your Creator? Let me give you 7 seconds of silence to listen.
The disciple of Jesus receives a voice. Your voice rings true because through tolerance and acceptance you have sought to understand, to identify, to see the situation from their perspective. You see them, you hear them and you have earned the right to speak to them. When you speak it is the gentle, tender, caring voice of correction. Just like the voice the Holy Spirit used to call you to himself.
God doesn’t have problems with people, its people who have problems with God.
As a Jesus whisperer, the things you say and a hundred times more powerful the things you do just like Tom Booker in the Horse Whisperer, help people to reconcile their problems with God. Use our voice.
1 Peter 3:15 NIV
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect [and always with the utmost courtesy (MSG)]