Hate Crimes, Love Acts


All crimes are hate crimes. When something steals, kills, and destroys, it is not love. It’s selfishness and hate for the person to whom it is done. 

The greatest hater and criminal? The devil, whose speciality is stealing, killing and destroying. Jesus, on the other hand, performs no hate crimes but only life-giving acts of love.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

Jesus Loves You

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On August 24th, 2016, my Grandpa Herbert Heider went to heaven.  He was ninety-years-old.  As a dedicated Christian, he diligently read the Word of God and attended church. He treated people with kindness and generosity.  Most of all, he loved Jesus.

A carpenter by trade, he built many houses. But after he retired, he scaled down to pieces of furniture, decorative boxes, doll cribs, and wooden toys.  At his funeral, however, his small wooden hearts were highlighted.  On these hearts, he had painstakingly stamped individual letters that read “Jesus Loves You.”  He would hand them out to family and friends. I own several of them, constant reminders of Grandpa’s love for Jesus and his passion for telling others.

Though we may not be as savvy at woodworking as my grandpa, there are many other ways we can share the love that Jesus has for others.  It is, after all, what Jesus commanded us to do.

Share the Love of Jesus

Sharing the Gospel is the first and most important way we can extend His love to others.  To be able to accurately share that Gospel, we must first understand what Jesus’ love inspired Him to do.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

People need to know that it was the love Jesus had for us that inspired Him to go to the Cross.  It wasn’t fame, power, or the possibility of wealth that motivated Him.  It was His love for us that kept Him focused on His mission.  When His mission was accomplished, He passed on the Great Commission to us – the commission to share the message of salvation to others.

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16)

Without the love of Jesus working through us in the message we share, many people will never know His love.  They will never know the truth of the Gospel, the truth that Jesus’ death – inspired by love – has paid the price for their eternity in heaven.

Show the Love of Jesus

Actions speak louder than words.  We can share the love of Jesus through our message, but if our actions don’t match His love, the message will seem hypocritical to our listeners.  It’s the love of God that compels us to give our lives to Him (2 Corinthians 5:14).  People need to see the Jesus’ love as much as they need to hear it.  And according to Jesus, showing His love is how they will know a believer from an unbeliever.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. (John 13:34-35)

So how do we show His love?  There are many ways, but first and foremost, we can lay down our lives for others, just as Jesus did.

Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. (John 15:13)

When we choose to lay down our lives for someone, we are putting them first.  Just as we try to love our lives by preserving it, we are to look out for the well-being of others.  This action looks like I Corinthians 13:4-7:

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

In short, showing the love of Jesus means treating others like we would like to be treated.  (Luke 6:31)  Someone else loved us enough to share the Gospel with us so we could be saved.  Others have selflessly been kind to us, thought the best of us, and endured our bad behavior.  Our goal, like my grandpa’s, should be to share that same love to others.  That’s what Jesus would do!

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (John 4:7, 8)

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.  And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:30-31)

This article is dedicated Grandpa Heider.  The picture of a wooden heart at the top of the page was made by him.  I will miss you, Grandpa!  Enjoy spending time with Jesus face to face!

 

 

 

The Heart of a Shepherd

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We often use John 10:10 as our “go-to” verse when explaining that evil comes from the devil and not from God: “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”  But if we read the entire chapter of John 10, the message goes even deeper.  Life comes from Jesus in His role as our good shepherd.

Let’s look at John 10:1-18, 27-29 and break down how Jesus proves Himself as our shepherd:

He comes in honorably (verse 1-3a).

 While the devil comes in like a thief without our permission, Jesus comes in because we open the door for His entrance.  He’s a gentleman and won’t come where He’s not wanted or honored.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.  To him the doorkeeper opens. . .”

He calls us by name (verse 3b).

A thief could care less about our personal identity.  All he wants is to control us and steal our possessions.  The Jesus, on the other hand, cares about us and knows us so well that He will lovingly call us by our name.

“. . . and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”

He leads us (verse 3a-6).

A thief, hard-hearted and cruel, will not lead us but will drive us forward.  Jesus, the greatest leader of all, will set the example by stepping out ahead and guiding us to our destination.

“. . . and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”

He leads us to a good place (verse 9).

A thief will not lead us to a place of goodness where our needs will be met.  He will drive us to our demise, caring less about our well-being. The Good Shepherd, Jesus, will freely allow us to come and go to receive whatever we need whenever we need it.

“If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture . . . “

He gives life (verse 10).

A thief’s goal is not to give life, but to take and destroy it.  Jesus’ goal is to bring life, a life overflowing with His goodness!

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

He lays down His life (verses 11-18).

The thief, or a hireling, does not have the heart of a shepherd.  When danger comes, he leaves us to be destroyed.  Jesus, on the other hand, is willing to lay down His life to protect us from predators.  He cares about us enough to sacrifice Himself for our well-being.

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.  As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”

He adds more to the fold (verse 16).

While a thief is self-centered about who he allows into his clan, Jesus is open to adding new members to the fold.  He desires a big family, not for selfish reasons, but so that they too can be saved from the wicked thief.

And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd.”

He gives eternal life (verses 27-29).

The thief can only give eternal death in hell.  Jesus, however, has all authority to provide eternity in heaven, and no one can steal it from us.

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.

Even an earthly, natural shepherd cares for his sheep.  He does whatever it takes to preserve their lives because they are valuable to him.  If they, in their weakness and imperfection, can exemplify the heart of a shepherd, how much more will our spiritual Shepherd reveal His heart through His perfection?

If we ever doubt God’s heart or how He operates, we should go back and review the heart of a shepherd.  Jesus purposefully used it as an illustration in order to describe Himself so that we could understand Him (verse 6).  Rest assured He will never leave His vocation.  He will forever be our Shepherd as long as we allow Him to be.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)