Wednesday, May 10, 2006

HARDER THAN YOU THINK

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another"- JESUS (John 13:34-35)

I am learning that these words of Jesus are more difficult than we can imagine them to be.

At first, these look like simple commands. "Love each other? That's it? Ok, then..."

But walking out the reality of these words is so much more difficult, challenging and painful than it seems.

Honestly, I wish that Jesus had said, "They will know you are my disciples if you love the lost, the least, the broken and hurting in the world." For me, that would be much easier.

I can extend Grace and forgiveness to someone who is weak. I can overlook the faults of those who have never known Jesus or experienced His love. It's not so hard for me to love and embrace the ones who are in pain, or in need, or have experienced sorrow.

It's those Christians I can't stand.

Seriously, no one can wound you like a brother. No one can disappoint you like a pastor. No one can hurt you like someone you've trusted like a sister in Christ.

It's when your brother in Christ stabs you in the back that the words of Jesus take on new meaning.

It's when the Church you've been attending for years, and serving faithfully all the while, turns on you and begins to slander your name, or to mock you...that's when the full weight of the words of Jesus kick you in the teeth.

"A new command I give you."

Notice that it's not a suggestion. It's a command. Want to know why? Because he knew that it would be something so hard, so painful, that if he didn't command us to do it, we'd never take him seriously.

Until we learn to love our brothers, we'll never really know what it means to love our enemies. We'll never fully know what it is to offer compassion to the least and the lost and the poor and the broken.

First, we learn to love those brothers and sisters who have injured us. We forgive them while they smile and wear their masks and go on as if nothing has happened.

Lately, God has revealed to me the depth of my own hypocrisy. It's been painful, so very painful, and yet at the same time, it's a sweet thing to know that He loves me even though I look like this on the inside.

He's known I had this twisted side to my inner being now from the beginning and only now has He let me see it too.

I've been so judgemental of all those other Christians who don't value the poor the way I do. I've had contempt for those so-called followers of Jesus who leave their crosses at home, who embrace the easy grace version of the Gospel, who leave out the poor and the marginalized (especially here in Orange County). I've hated those bastards for not seeing what I see or believing what I believe...and then God shows me that I'm one of those bastards too.

A few weeks ago, in my own home, during our house church meeting, I was actively ignoring the needs of someone in our group who I had determined was unworthy of equal treatment or compassion. It wasn't until another person in our group had gone far, far out of her way to love and bless this man that I was able to see my own sin.

God spoke to my heart in this moment and said, "See? I was here in your house and you did not wash my feet, but this woman has not stopped washing my feet since I sat down on your sofa. Do you really value the poor? The broken? Do you really see me? Do you really love me?"

Wow.

I was crushed. My heart was revealed to me...my own black, sinful, selfish, evil heart.

I wanted to look away, but God had so brilliantly revealed it to me that I couldn't pretend I didn't see it. I couldn't ignore it. In fact, I think I suddenly felt the same pain in my heart that I must have been causing in His for a long time now.

What could I do but to repent? Fall on my knees again and beg for Him to wash me, cleanse me, heal me, change me.

I realize, again, that I need a constant conversion. I need to daily lay down my life for Jesus. I need to really learn what it means to lay down my life for a brother..for a friend...(and it doesn't involve bloodshed as much as it involves submission, humility, service and genuine compassion).

Am I really ready for what it means to follow Jesus? To lay down my life for Him? To daily take up my cross and die to myself?

This is harder than we know. Following Jesus, contrary to what the televangelists would have you believe, is not easy. It will not make your life easy. In fact, it will jack you up in ways that nothing else can ever hope to.

Maybe I'm not ready to follow Jesus yet. Maybe I need to find something else to do with my time?

But I know that there's really no other option for me. I've tasted and I've seen. I've been in His prescence and changed by His touch. Where else can I go?

"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God." - John 6:68

by Keith Giles

1 comment:

Carrie Cosby said...

wow. is about all I have for that one at the moment. wow. one of the things I love most is to witness, hear, and be part of a friends' - especially if they are a fellow brother or sister in Christ - breaking and revelations. you've just had a breakthrough in something God has obviously been stressing on your heart for a while now, and you were finally able to see the totality of what He has been showing you. it is one of the most beautiful things in the world, to me, to see that revelation and witness those little lightbulbs turning on in our heads - even though it often comes with a period of brokenness and humility and a feeling of "oh what have I done?"
Thank you Keith.
Have you ever read Gene Edwards?