Tuesday, June 30, 2015
I've found myself frustrated on multiple occasions lately with the way I observe people judging others from a distance. This sort of uninformed judgment-making is commonplace in today's world -- perhaps especially so in America where we're conditioned to exalt the independence of the self, and even more so in the church where so many of us have been taught to fear those who might "lead us astray." For the sake of self-preservation, in whatever form that might take, we close our eyes and ears and minds and, most grievously, our hearts, to anyone who thinks or sees the world differently than we do.
It is this sort of prideful arrogance that assumes we've better figured things out than another person -- and subsequently leads us to separate "us" from "them" -- that created the chaos in our church last year. It's not that a conviction that one way is "right" or "better" is bad. It is precisely this sort of conviction that guides us all in our daily lives, that informs the choices we make, whether that conviction stems from our belief in Jesus or Buddhism or scientific discovery or human progress or so on. The problem arises when our conviction leads us to distance ourselves from those who live by a conviction not mirroring our own, when we lose our ability to interact with -- and, beyond that, to genuinely love and care for -- those who hold another perspective.
If we spent half as much time and energy concerned with whether people knew they were loved and cared for as we spend trying to protect our own reputations or guard our (or someone else's) morality, I'm convinced we would be more peaceful, joyful people...
God, I don't want to keep revisiting these old frustrations. I believe You've shown me a better way -- one of love, compassion, understanding, sympathy, peacemaking, and trust -- trust that "You've got this," that judgment can be left up to You and that I am free to love with abandon. There are still many in my circles who don't (and perhaps won't) understand where I am in my relationship with You or with others. They fear I've taken a wrong turn. They've been taught to fear. But I continue to rest in my confidence that perfect love drives out fear. And I'm choosing love. I'm choosing to believe You are the One who can redeem divorces and same-sex attraction and addiction and depression, and perhaps not always in the way we think it ought to be done, with reversal or elimination as our only options, but perhaps by bringing new life from the death of a relationship or by teaching us to extend grace and acceptance to those we don't understand or by our choosing to love well in spite of struggles that never really go away.
I want to run ahead full speed in my belief that LOVE -- and presence -- truly is the way to which You've called me, and us. Help me to throw off what hinders -- these old concerns about being misunderstood that repeatedly wrap themselves like chains around me, causing me to dwell in old patterns of self-righteousness and fear. Please help me to trust and follow Your Spirit into greater freedom and deeper love. Give me a humble heart and kill my pride. Remind me each day that I'm no better than any other person. Help me to love well. Please make me a safe place for people to be real -- to share both their heartaches AND their joys. Please let people experience Your unconditional love through me. Make me a peacemaker, Jesus, seeking both justice AND mercy. And give me Your grace to shake the dust when people don't understand. Let me really leave the past behind and move forward into LIFE.
Read the Introduction and Part 1.