Behave, Believe, Belong
(Turn it Around!)
A pastor I once heard was teaching the teens about acceptance and living in love.
As he discussed this issue he gave an example of many Christian churches across the USA having a model of acceptance that looks something like Behave, Believe, and Belong.
In this model, if someone behaves properly, the congregation will allow them access to the church and services. After their behavior meets the standards of the church then they must adhere to a certain set of beliefs before they can belong.
Behave, Believe, and Belong…
In this model, people become the judges.
In this model, if someone is identified by the people of the church to be a particular kind of sinner, the church would not allow them to participate in the services.
In this model, even those the people named as sinners are turned away from the only thing that can heal them!
In this model, churches would refuse to share a pulpit at community events, because other churches allow those “particular kinds” of sinners to participate in their services.
In this model, every single member of the congregation is a hypocrite because they are all less than perfect, and yet they will disallow someone else to hear the gospel because of their behavior!
If everyone truthfully followed this model, there would be no congregation!
In this model, once one is behaving properly and they have come to believe as the church does, then they would be considered to have EARNED membership and then can say that they belong to the church!
This model is based on works, not Grace!
Grace is not grace if it must be earned!
If Jesus Christ had used this model, there would not be a church today!
Pastor Kyle put it to the teens that we should turn this model around so that it becomes, Belong, Believe, and Behave!
In this model, we do as Jesus is doing right now and we Love everyone whether or not they have come to believe in Him and whether or not they are sinning in any certain way.
This does not mean that we cannot see people’s faults. It means that we are not the judge of who is saved or what is a particular kind of sin. It means that we Love them and they belong! Whoever THEY are! It also means that they at least now have a chance to hear the Word of God and come to believe!
In this model, we acknowledge the amazing Grace that saved a “sinner like ME” and we know that there is nothing we could do to earn that Mercy and Grace. Therefore we extend the same grace to others when they come! They BELONG now! It is finished! They do not have to earn it!
In this model, we make everyone feel welcome and we accept people just as they are, again just like Jesus did! He Loved us first! Remember NO ONE was yet saved when Jesus died on the Cross for all of us! He did not die for only some people who behave a certain way! It was for ALL!
In this model, we trust in the Holy Spirit and in the power of Jesus Christ to move in the hearts and minds of the people who we have accepted with open arms! This is truly the only thing that can bring one to belief in a God that they cannot see! When someone witnesses REAL Love in Action from Christians following Christ and then they hear the Word of God, they will be more likely to open their hearts to the Holy Spirit, and then there is a very real possibility for this person to come to know the Saving Grace of Jesus Christ!
In this model, we trust in the power of the Love of Christ to transform people once they believe and they will want to begin to behave in ways that please the Lord! We do not expect perfection prior to acceptance, in fact it is the opposite, we know that we are all imperfect and only transformation in Christ can set us on a new path! So how is it possible for us to exclude anyone?
I don’t know about you, but I sure do like the Belong, Believe, and Behave model better!
I like it because it is a model that a follower of Christ would adopt!
I like it because this model is Love in Action and it will bring people to Christ instead of becoming a stumbling block for walk of faith!
This model is Love First…Love Always!
God Bless You