This post has been stirring in my head and heart for longer than any other. Every time I put it in the back of my mind ... more evidence that it needs to be written is put in my path, my house, my heart, my life. In fact, the sheer magnitude of this topic may need to be written as a series because there's so much. I fear that it will become overwhelming, for you to read and for me to write.
Some of you are not going to like it. Some of you won't recognize yourself in it.
You see I have friends that I love that could use some grace, some love and mostly some forgiveness in their hearts and minds. They need it and they deserve it. That pure and true and loving grace that I have come to know and need and trust. The kind of love and grace and kindness that I now know I don't need to hustle and grind to deserve. The kind that is within my reach at any time no matter how much I screw up. No matter what crime I commit, no matter the hate and hurt that creeps in my heart, or the unkind words that slip off my tongue into someone else's heart and mind.
Because I screw up. I am human. I hurt, I sometimes hurt others, I jack things up. The difference between me and those friends I have that need this grace ....... there is only one difference. Just One. The difference is simple, so freaking simple. I know that grace and love and kindness is available to me because I believe that Jesus died on the cross for me and all of those screw ups and mistakes and crimes and hurtful words I sometimes spew. I know that I can ask for forgiveness. That's it.
And do you know why all of these people in my life aren't accessing this amazing gift? They all have the same story.
Every. Single. One. Of. Them.
At some point, someone ......... someone who called themselves a Christian said or did something so judgmental and shameful that these people stopped listening.
These stories are personal. They came from real people. They tell me these stories with the names and faces of these people in their minds. Memories that run deep.
Sometimes these people were their loved ones, even family. Often the intent was to get my friends to "straighten up" to "fix their life" to "be better" "do better".
People that often talk openly and proudly about their Sunday church experience or the very important "mission trip" they just completed. Then Monday through Friday at work, they talk terrible about people with judgement and superiority.
Both..... Epic Fail.
I don't care if you pack your backpack every summer and head to some far corner of the earth to feed starving children and get your picture in the Christian Winner Brochure.........if you can't shed some love and kindness into your day job then spare me your marketing hype, you're ruining it for my friends.
And if someone's life is "out of control" and they're doing things to get into trouble, your shaming comments are not going to get them on the right path. They're likely hurting and searching for something.
You know what might?
Love. Grace. Kindness.
Because Jesus didn't ask you to market yourself as a Christian and to go to the right church and surround yourself with people that look and act just like you. He asked you to go out into the streets and spread that love and kindness around like it's your job. Because it is. And if you can't do it during the mundane of the day to day for your friends, family and neighbors, then stop calling yourself a Christian.
Because I'd really like to reach these people in my life that I love so much with the message that all they need to do is accept that Jesus died on the cross for them so they can be forgiven and live wild and free from the hurt and the brokenness they feel. And if you'd stop sending a different message, we might get them to listen. But for now I'm just trying to extend love, grace and kindness until they trust me to tell them the truth and invite them in. Showing not telling.
And I'm extending the same love and grace and kindness to you. To those of you that may have intentionally or accidentally shed judgement or shame to those that needed something very different. I've done it, if we're honest we all have at some point. Because we're all broken and we've all been shown things and been told things. Sometimes we have to stop and ask ourselves if what we've been shown and told is the truth or if we need to seek it for ourselves.
I know it's that simple because of Romans 10:9 .... all I need is to do is .....openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised him from the dead, then I can be saved. It took me awhile to find this simplicity because I watched Christians overcomplicate things and I thought there was some secret handshake of perfection that I hadn't been taught yet. What a bunch of crap I had begun to believe.
And I also know that He takes anyone ...... because of 2 Corinthians 12:9 ...... His power works best in weakness ... really good news for those of us that are screwed up and have made mistakes. So I don't have to pretend that I have my act together, he likes me just the way I am .... broken. I love this one so much I have it inked on my side forever, but your opinion about me and my tattoo I'm saving for another post in this series.
Because life here in this human brokenness can be hard and I'd really like us to end up in heaven together someday. Because that would be cool.