It’s been a slow unveiling. I don’t know if it was by blindness, ignorance, or choice, to be honest. I didn’t see every person the way they needed to be seen. I saw them how I wanted to see them. Who makes up “them”? I guess everyone who isn’t like me. People who don’t think like me or dress like me or look like me or share the same values as me.
I didn’t know it at the time, but it’s a very isolated place to be. I had closed the door for so many opportunities that I may never know again. Opportunities for community and friendship, being real and raw and living this gritty life together.
I wouldn’t admit it then because perhaps I was in denial, and because I expected so much out of myself, I expected much out of people, too. I guess I still do expect much out of myself but now that “much” looks different. It’s not “much performance” or “much perfection”. Instead it’s “much compassion” and “much kindness”.
The scandal of grace is a real thing. It’s one of those “too good to be true” offers. Except it really is true. Subconsciously, I struggled to accept it for myself, so I struggled to extend it to others. This has been an uncovering of my own heart years in the making. One layer at a time I am finding much I’ve buried. Many destructive teachings I have followed and some I’ve even taught.
In Need of Grace
I honestly don’t believe people are capable of being so gracious of others until they realize just how much they need it personally. Yeah, I was self-righteous and couldn’t even see it. The thought makes my stomach churn. Because it puts me in a similar place as a Pharisee and I could easily see how destructive their actions were to people. But because I wasn’t as “extreme” as other people I’d seen, I didn’t really recognize it in myself. But it was there. I have always been desperate for God’s grace, but I haven’t always been good at receiving it.
Loving people means loving them on God’s terms, not ours. And often, so very often, our terms come with a list of conditions—even if we don’t recognize them. People are not projects. People are not potential converts. People are not problems to be solved.
Loving someone doesn't mean we have to agree with them. But it does mean we are willing to enter into their pain and poverty. It means we're willing to try to comprehend their purpose and their passion (yes, even if they are different from ours).
The Outcast Need Genuine Love
Why do we so often feel threatened by people who may hold different values than us? This is something I've been asking myself. How we rob ourselves of the beauty of His very own creation!
I don’t want to dwell on the past, but sometimes we need to dig it up in order to learn from it.
The more time I take to know people (not just Christians—but all people) and hear their hearts and struggles and passions, the more I identify with my own humanity. I know as Christians we are called to die to our flesh, but that doesn’t include becoming dead inside to other people and being honest about our own struggles. Especially people who may not share the Christian faith.
It’s heartbreaking to hear of people who have been deemed outcast because of their circumstances (divorce, abortion, addiction, homeless, etc). Yeah, maybe some mistakes were made, but who am I to hold their mistakes against them?
I’m not talking about calling out the sin of another Christian in a biblical way, but shunning people, Christians and non-Christians alike. Non-Christians are not even held to the standard of a Christian. They will not share the same values and biblical principles. That’s a topic for another day.
But tell me…do you ever think about this?
For His Glory,
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