"Judge a man by his questions rather than by his answers." - VoltairE

How can I love people I don’t like?

October 5, 2017



It’s hard to love everyone. It’s almost impossible to like everyone. Yet, there are ways that we can develop a more Jesus-like heart towards those we find difficult.

God has been challenging me about loving my enemies.

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.”
Matt. 5: 44 - 45

I used to rather piously think I didn’t have any enemies. Perhaps it’s true that there’s no one who’s trying to kill me or physically harm me, but I don’t think that means I can ignore Jesus’ command. There are definitely people who misunderstand me, who mock my faith, who think badly of me because they reject my moral stance on certain issues. But more worrying, there are people that - if I’m honest - I’m guilty of judging or tempted to reject. Maybe it’s because I think they’re using their money for the wrong things, maybe I struggle to see how their faith makes a difference to their life, or maybe they appear to me to be rude or arrogant.

It can be very easy to objectify people or groups of people if we hold them at a distance (see, for example, the increasing prevalence of insensitive and hurtful personal attacks on the internet). It’s easy to slip into hating a faceless mob ‘out there’ (The ‘enemy’ may depend on the political climate, or individual prejudices: ‘communists’, ‘drug addicts’, ‘anti-theists’, ‘Islamic extremists’, ‘bankers’ etc.). How do we reconcile this with the knowledge that Jesus died for everyone and wants to restore their relationship with God?

I’ve found that when I get to know people properly, God can transform my heart towards them. We are all a complicated mix of strengths and weaknesses, endearing and off-putting qualities. I’ve found that spending time with people helps me to love them more. Finding out about them and what makes them tick can bring us closer together. As Atticus Finch said in ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Here are some questions that I find it helpful to consider:

  • What can I learn about this person’s background, dreams, hopes and fears? I need to pray that God will make me patient in listening to and understanding this person’s story.
  • What might God want me to learn from this person? Everyone can teach us something so I need to be a humble learner.
  • What is this person good at that I’m weak at? Everybody has strengths that I don’t have.
  • What do I need to repent of in my attitude or behaviour towards this person? I need to ask Jesus to transform my heart.
  • What scriptures can help me understand God’s heart for this person?
  • How can I spend time getting to know this person? Can I meet them for a drink or take them out for a meal? Maybe they could show me round their workplace or I could join in a hobby with them.
  • What one thing can I do to serve and bless this person this week? Can I send a card with an encouragement? Maybe there’s a physical need I can help with.
  • How can I pray for this person?
  • How can we both point each other to Jesus and encourage spiritual growth?

 

Why believe? 6 bonus apologetics sites and apps

September 11, 2017



In May I did a series on 12 apologetics sites and apps. You can see 1 - 6 here and 7 - 12 here.

Here are a further 6 resources that are helpful for people exploring Christianity, or helpful for Christians who want to have robust answers to difficult questions.

(1) Christian Apologetics Alliance
The CAA is an evangelical, non-denominational Christian ministry. It concentrates on a robust defence of the central claims of Christianity, rather than secondary issues about which Christian may disa...


Continue reading...
 

Agapé Student Life in Newcastle showcase 2017

August 30, 2017
A video of photos and quotes from Agapé Student Life in Newcastle, from the academic year 2016 - 7.


Continue reading...
 

God’s moral law

August 16, 2017



It seems that we’re living in a post-truth world, surrounded by fake news in a post-modern culture of extreme moral relativism. How many times have you heard someone say, ‘Well that might be true for you, but it isn’t true for me.’ or ‘This is my truth’?

A difficulty with moral relativism is that right and wrong become simply a matter of opinion. There is no intrinsic rightness or wrongness and no substantive or qualitative difference between 'Don't drive through a red light' and ...


Continue reading...
 

11 Christian musicians who are worth a listen

August 9, 2017


I always like getting recommendations of new artists to check out, so I hope you’ll enjoy discovering some new favourites here. In no particular order:

  1. Jane Kitson
    North-East based Jane Kitson is a talented singer-songwriter, pianist, guitarist (and probably plays other instruments as well), with a great voice.

  2. Aaron Taylor
    Soulful Aaron Taylor is so mellow and his R&B sounds are silky smooth.

  3. mStork
    mStork is ‘not your average rap package, unabashedly expansive and genuinely rebellious'. His l...

Continue reading...
 

Philip and the Ethiopian: Lessons in evangelism

July 31, 2017


I recently preached at Kelvin Grove church in Gateshead and my text was Acts 8: 26 - 40. I’m not going to recreate the sermon here or go into the background and exegesis of the passage, but I did want to highlight 4 things we can learn about Philip’s approach to evangelism:

(1) Relying on the on the Holy Spirit
Clear that Philip relied on and was directed by the Spirit (v.26, 29, 39). He was open to going where God told him to go in the power that God gave him, and we need to do the same. W...

Continue reading...
 

Cryptic Christians Quiz

July 24, 2017


Every now and again I like to post something a bit lighthearted on my blog, and this time I've written a series of cryptic clues to lead you to the names of famous Christians past and present. See if you can get them all without looking stuff up on Google!

  1. Redeemed, eighth month, adolescent 
  2. Dad's Army's Mr Dunn, paper-fasteners, Oxford crime-solver
  3. Mr Major has a bony foot deformity
  4. Fairy take goat, Golden cereal
  5. Ultimate, toilet, vehicle, uncooked-bread
  6. Triple-jumping puritan theologian?
  7. Mr Presco...

Continue reading...
 

The C word: Why is celibacy so misunderstood and undervalued?

July 3, 2017

Celibacy is like a dirty word in our culture - something to be ashamed of. People don't know how to react when I say I'm celibate (but it ranges from embarrassed silence to pity, to disbelief, to thinking that there must be something seriously wrong with me, to being intrigued or impressed). It may be misunderstood in our culture, but celibacy is liberating, demanding, exhilarating and above all, a gift from God. 

Part of the problem is that our society equates intimacy with sex and treats sex...

Continue reading...
 

9 recommended books for skeptics and those investigating Christianity

June 30, 2017

Maybe you’re already a Christian and would like some good books to give to friends who are interested in your faith, or would like to make sure that you have rigorously thought through what you believe. Or maybe you have doubts about Christianity and objections to the claims Christians make. Wherever you are on your spiritual journey, I would highly recommend the books below.

  1. Gospel of John
    The best place to start is with one of the gospel accounts in the Bible itself. They all have their own...

Continue reading...
 

After the Rain - Stewart Garry

June 19, 2017
I love this piece of music.


Continue reading...
 

Tags

40th acts addiction aesop agapé animation anxiety apologetics app apps atheism audio ben folds bible bible study birthday blog book books busyness celibacy charity chart child children christ christmas church colouring comedy commentary communications community conference consumerism conversation creativity culture cwtch data diagram dictionary discipleship discussion emotion enemies ethics evangelism event evidence fable fair trade faith father fear feeling feminism film fireseeds foodbank freshers fun fundraiser funny game gifts god good gospel grace great commission growth guitar health history holy biscuit holy spirit hope hopelessness hospitality house hub humour hymn identity individualism infographics jesus joke leaflet lennox lgbtq library love magazine map maturity ministry mission moral morality move music nation newcomers news north east old testament online outreach persecution perspective philosophy photo photography piano podcast poem pool night poverty praise prayer prayer requests presents princess anne priorities prodigal son project provision psalm publicity puzzle questions quiz quotes reference reflection relationship relationships relativism religion repentance resource resources retreat review right and wrong royalty science scripture sermon sex sharing faith showcase significance silence social society song soularium spirituality story student life students study support support discovery talk technology thank you theology tools top trumps training translation treasure update value video vine visual website websites witnessing women words worry worship wycliffe ywam

Agapé is a registered charity in England & Wales (no. 258421) and Scotland (no. SC042332).
167 Newhall Street, Birmingham, B3 1SW   |   0121 765 4404   |  info@agape.org.uk