Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

Loving Others and Living By Grace

Hebrews 13:9

Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so.

Photo on 7-6-16 at 3.42 PMFacebook and other social media outlets broke loose these last few days as the decision of the FBI came out to not file charges against Hillary Clinton. Some were delighted and some were horrified. Some thought it was a lot to do about nothing and some thought the rich and powerful got away with breaking the law again. Donald Trump believes the system is rigged – to use his terms. People typically sided with their political party on this issue – but not always.

When General Conference of the United Methodist Church took place this spring – social media was abuzz with all sorts of comments. A subject that hit the social media circuit was same-sex relationships. There were those supporting it as normal and those seeing it as sinful. Comments ranged from support for their view to demonization of those who saw things differently (from both sides).

I recently tweeted the following on my twitter page (https://twitter.com/RayMcDonald) – Praying tonight for God to open my eyes to some needed wisdom and truth. After 61+ years of life, I still have so many unanswered questions. A friend asked me what I was searching for and I told him wisdom and truth – lol. We got further and one of the things I’m searching for is how to deal with issues without being divisive. I’m searching for ways to stand for what I believe is Biblical without offending those who disagree with me. I wonder if there is a way to do this?

As I write this post – I was just reading two men I love and respect – debating an issue on social media. They come from different places – different experiences – yet I know they both love Jesus. It seemed like they were having difficulty expressing themselves in such a way as to not offend the other. It didn’t seem like they were succeeding – at least from what I was reading.

My wife urges me to not enter such discussions on social media. Yet this seems like the media or platform of choice these days and I have an opinion (lol – don’t we all). In Jesus’ day they would gather in the courtyard of the town and converse – teach – share ideas. They would gather in small groups and not so small groups (see the story of the feeding of the 5,000) to teach and instruct. Social media gives us the opportunity to share our ideas far beyond the scope of a small group in someone’s home or in the courtyard. I’m amazed at the global reading of my blog page (www.raymcdonald.wordpress.com). One day I counted over a dozen countries signing in to read it – from all over the globe.

Yet I continue to search for a grace filled way to share my thoughts without offending people who differ with my thoughts. Here is today’s passage in partial context – Hebrews 13:1–10 – 1 Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. 2 Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. 3 Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. 4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” 6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” 7 Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9 Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so. 10 We have an altar from which those who minister at the tabernacle have no right to eat.

There are many subjects in this passage where some disagreement was experienced in the early church and some plain and simple truths. The early church had division over some of these issues and others – yet two things stand out to me as the author writes. Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters and it is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace.

I am praying – as I enter the last decade or so of my active ministry and the last years (both as the Lord wills of course) of my life – that it will be more important to me to love others and to live by grace – rather than making sure everyone adheres to my understanding of truth. Don’t read me wrong – I still believe in certain doctrines and truths – some essential beliefs – but loving others and living by grace needs to win the day – or so I am coming to understand. Having said that – if I am silent on social media about a subject – it isn’t because I agree or disagree with the discussion – but rather – I am praying for a grace-filled way to address the issue – maybe even as Christ would – if I address it at all!

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.


July 7, 2016 - Posted by | Build, Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Theology | , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. The divisions of our church and country feel like they are growing deeper and more painful over time to me. It might be that I am changing, but it feels to me like we are much more often in a “win at all costs” mode of conversation/debate rather than a “come let us reason together” mode. I continue to pray for peace in the midst of the storm, and to be an agent of peace in a place of turbulent waters.


    Comment by Travis Knoll | July 8, 2016 | Reply

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