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To Hear or Be Heard

Paul said that he was the chiefest of sinners, but sometimes, I swear I have him beat. I’ve lied. I’ve stolen. I’ve been greedy. I’ve lusted in my heart and murdered in my mind. I am a disgrace to my Savior. A convict in need of a pardon, an orphan in need of a Father. I am the wretch from “Amazing Grace”

And yet, in spite of me, Christ saw me, loved me, and gave Himself up for me. He lived the life I could never live, died the death that I deserved, and rose over all couldn’t conquer on my own. He breathed His Spirit into me and filled my breath with lungs. He broke through my heart of  stone and gave me heart of flesh in it’s stead. He bought at a great price. He won me. He calls me His own.

So now, my only right response is to give all I have to Him. I am His and He is mine. He is my life and in Him I live, move and have my being. I am no longer who I once was. I’ve been remade into a new creation. I no longer come into this world swinging a gavel. Instead, I come with a life laid down. A servant to all, a friend to sinners – I come the way that Jesus came to me.

Which means that I get to embrace everybody.

They complained that Jesus hung out with the sinners. I hope they say the same of me. Homosexuals, atheists, prostitutes, picketers, preachers; there is no one beneath my service. There is no one beneath my love. I LOVE those who disagree with me. I LOVE those who won’t have anything to do with me. I LOVE those who tell me that I need to stand for truth. And I LOVE those who tell me my truth is not theirs.

I have the privilege of loving everyone.

Of course, my logical side asks the question “how do I do that?” If we’re talking practically, how do I truly love people? What’s that even mean? Can you even love a culture who feels hated if they’re disagreed with? How do I love souls with who are so completely opposite everything I stand for? How do I build bridges to Jesus and to others? And in what ways am I unknowingly burning bridges down?

Honestly, I don’t know the answers to many of those yet. But I do know this – I’m not called to judge the world. It’s true. Especially if you believe the Bible is true. Paul agrees when he says

“When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that.” (1 Corinthians 5:9-10 NLT)

I’m also quite certain that when I do offer my two cents, I should do it with extreme tact and kindness.

“Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.” (2 Timothy 2:25 NLT)

James echoes Paul’s thoughts when he says

“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.” (James 1:19-20 NLT)

I am loved by God and have been given the ministry of reconciliation. In spite of all I’ve done to become underserving of His love, He has won me back and invited me into His work. That is, I’m here to tell people God wants them back. I get to tell the world that God wants them. I don’t know exactly how to do that yet. But I do know that it involves laying my life down, serving like crazy, not judging, being gentle, listening, and not getting angry because anger doesn’t produce righteousness.

I don’t remember who said this, but I love it.
“I don’t understand when the church got co-opted by the idea that legislating morality was the same thing as preaching the gospel. The sooner we stop trying to run society and start loving our neighbor, the sooner the Church gains footing in people’s lives and is able to welcome them, teach them, whatever. Why wring our hands over the culture? If the Church starts to experience persecution, so be it.“

What if we stopped trying so hard to be heard and just tried to hear? What if we served people so well, they were desperate to hear what we thought because they knew we truly wanted what’s best for them? That’s the kind of love that I see Jesus doing.

It’s Jesus coming and living among us for 30 years before He did one miracle. It’s the kind of love that’s messy and practical and can’t be done from the pew of your church or from your weekly lifegroup meeting.

I wonder if it isn’t our job to steward the morality of mankind. I wonder if we’re simply called to make disciples. That in itself is a down and dirty, one person at a time kind of calling. It’s  small, often times thankless, and it’s not a campaign – it’s a kingdom. Like Paul said, I’m not called to judge the world; I’m called to love it. I’m not even called to change the world. that’s the Holy Spirit’s job. I’m simply to introduce people to Jesus and let Him do the rest. If He is in my life, my job should be to bring others to His arms and to let the power of His love shift their thinking. I make the introduction, but Jesus wins their heart. Just like He won mine.

Let’s share Him like we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I bet if we put down our megaphones, we’ll find a world out there, waiting to be heard. And when they know we truly want to hear, they might just be interested in what we have to  say.

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