What does love look like when you see others being terribly mistreated? Should you step in indignantly and defend the fatherless who can’t seem to defend themselves? Is it okay to be angry when you see others being hurt and those who are doing the hurting are unrepentant and continue in their behavior?
What does it look like to love them? What does love look like for the people being mistreated? There is an ache in my heart to know the answers to these things. Because I want people to be loved. I want to be loved. I also want to see justice for those who have been hurt and haven’t felt that love. How can I move on and have compassion for people who don’t know how to love in the simplest of ways?
But I also don’t want there to be bitterness in my heart. I think sometimes my anger will bring justice. If I were defenseless, I would want someone to be angry for me. I would want someone to defend me. I would want someone to protect me.
How does Jesus view these situations? Does He get angry? Does He get sad? Does He let the mistreatment continue because He thinks the experience is a good “growing lesson” for the one being hurt? How does He see the one who is doing the abusing?
How does He see the sex trafficker, the evil politician, the abortion doctor, the abusive pastor? No, really. How does He see them?
I’ve heard all of the nice, well-packaged theological answers to these questions but most of the people who have these answers haven’t experienced evil for themselves.
But I know someone who has. So please answer me, Jesus. How do I love them?
Okay. I know I have been getting a little intense with this whole blogging thing. I don’t mean to sound all doom and gloom. But hey, sometimes it’s just being transparent when we admit that life is tough. I wouldn’t say I’m at the ‘doom and gloom’ point at the moment. I’m mostly just at the “can’t figure out what I’m doing with my life and I’m 31” point. The truth is I’m surrounded by my awesome family, surrounded by awesome friends, going to a solid Jesus-loving church, have a good job that is paying the bills, have a dog that loves me, and getting some pretty cool opportunities musically.
Yet I still wrestle. I have been through quite a bit in the last two years and I still feel perplexed. Have you ever had those moments when you feel like you’re going through absolute hell and then Jesus surprises you completely by causing you to love Him even more? Most people don’t catch those little things He does to show you His love in the midst of extreme circumstances. But the people that do catch those little things find themselves in a shocking situation– they realize their love for Jesus is real. It’s authentic. It’s lasting. And though it still feels weak, it only bolsters their confidence in His strength inside of them.
King David had lots of those moments and I think his circumstances were about 7892352345 times more extreme than ours ever were and yet God still used him to write some of the most powerful songs in human history. How many life-changing sermons have been preached after a pastor has fought hard bouts of depression or faced trying and painful times? I’m thinking there have been lots.
I remember this past spring finding myself in an almost impossible situation. The Lord gave a very unlikely and unexpected person a dream about me that the Father would deliver me and rescue me. That dream kept me sane through the next month until the Lord DID deliver me from one of the craziest experiences of my life. I remember thinking about that dream after the situation ceased and being so overcome with the love of the Father over my life and my heart.
Hard times and difficult situations develop a deep sense of gratefulness that surpasses anything we can muster up on our own. I can look back on several situations from my life and daily be grateful that the Lord released me from those things. This gratefulness produces a depth of love and a holy fear that cannot be replicated.
We’re suppose to model Jesus, right? Well, everything that Jesus did was motivated by compassion. Of course He had love. No one will argue with that but what fueled His ministry was compassion. We see the exact words “He was moved with (motivated by) compassion for them,” FIVE times in scripture at Matthew 9:36, Matthew 14:14, Matthew 18:37, Mark 1:41, and Mark 6:34. Whether He was healing the sick, teaching truth, or rebuking the Pharisees, everything He did was motivated from compassion for those that were hurting and being abused by religious authorities (Luke 11:46).
And the world sees right through our motivations if we don’t have true compassion. If we are motivated by pride, control, and the “need to succeed”, those outside of the church will see right through our empty facade. Maybe people enjoy the presence of God in your ministry or they like the cool activities involved in your church but are they getting healed and set free by love? Is your ministry a place of refuge for the broken?
I am tired of seeing people walk into a church and become more wounded when they leave it than when they first came in. It’s time for the madness to stop.
Signs that your motives might not be from compassion:
- You spend more time trying to convince people to “serve” your ministry, obey, be loyal to, and honor leadership more than you talk about having intimacy with Jesus.
- You are passive-aggressive and treat people like garbage from the microphone.
- Anyone in your church who addresses problems instantly “becomes the problem”… instead of evaluating and changing your methods of ministry, the person is instantly villainized.
- You spend more time caring about the reputation of your ministry than how people might actually be hurting in your ministry.
I don’t have a single thing to say nor is there a single thing that I could do that will make Abba love me more.
I could turn pirouettes or be covered in mud and yet He would still snatch me up in His arms and plant kisses all over my face.
When I am hard on myself, He still adores me.
When I am scared, He still adores me.
When I don’t trust Him, He still adores me.
He loves me when I’m a jerk. He loves me when I’m sweet.
He loves me when I have compassion and He loves me when I’m selfish.
He is for me when the people around me aren’t.
He sees the best when others see the worst.
I could run away but why would I? He is the only one that will never give up on me.
If we took ourselves, our agendas and all of our ideas and turned them backward, we would have the character of God.
He isn’t anything like us.
He isn’t concerned about building buildings. He isn’t concerned about our ambitions to be known, successful and recognized. He’s concerned about building people.
He’s concerned about building me into what He has called me to be so that I can bring glory to Him. Not to myself. Not to a ministry. But to Him.
The sea of black and white intermingled as all of those in the class of 1998 squeezed their way into my high school auditorium. I was a senior in high school and the scene before me was our first “Senior Assembly”. I was the Yankee girl in my first year living in the deep south, surrounded by southern teenagers that pretended they still didn’t have a chip on their shoulder from their defeat during the Civil War. The colorful sea broke and dispersed throughout the auditorium and I quickly scrambled to find my seat next to some familiar faces in my youth group. As the meeting commenced, my attention span quickly waned and I gazed around the room. People watching is one of my favorite activities. What caught my attention at this point was the fact that the seats in the auditorium were split right down the middle–white kids on one side– black kids on the other side. I was shocked and stunned. This was 1998 not 1924. No, the school wasn’t breaking some sort of segregation law. In fact it didn’t have anything to do with the government or even the administration at the school. These kids just didn’t like each other and didn’t care to be around each other at all. How sad.
I recalled this incident to my new boyfriend a year later. He had grown up in the south and went to a more liberal, arts oriented high school than I did but he didn’t seem to find this scenario so perplexing. “One thing I have figured out is that we’re just different. Blacks and whites are just different and we don’t have anything in common so we aren’t friends real easily.”
I don’t know about you but I happen to like people that are different than me. Why the heck would I only want to be friends with people that are EXACTLY like me? That’s so boring!! I find people of other cultures fascinating… in fact not just people of other cultures but people that are… different. I like getting to know different personalities (as long as they aren’t MEAN personalities), from quirky to quiet, and from shy to loud… I can always find something entertaining about them, even if I have to dig a little. The way people dress, how they relate to others, their cute accents, their repetitive words… these are all beautiful to me and I know they are to Jesus as well.
I was thinking about this subject the other day as I was driving in the car and decided to get this documentary I watched awhile back. It’s called Furious Love. If you haven’t seen this movie, I suggest you don’t waste one more minute reading this blog and get it immediately. It will change your life. But if you do insist finishing this blog, I have more to say. After watching this video again tonight I thought (and maybe this isn’t true for all people) about how easy it is to love the broken and the poor. It really is easy to love on someone who is hurting and is searching for love. It’s easy to minister to their hearts and speak the love of the Father over them. They’re hungry for it before you even ask. I think maybe I am good at loving this way. But Jesus says in Matthew 5:46 “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?” If you’re roommates are making your life a living hell, they’re not so easy to love. If you’re friends abandoned you, took sides against you, misunderstood you, abused you, believed the worst about you etc… they probably aren’t so easy to love either. I think it’s the hardest thing in the world to not try and preserve myself. To love only if I feel like I’m being loved back. In fact, I am probably the worst at this and it’s simply due to sin– fear and selfishness.
I heard from someone recently that to love and bless someone is the strongest form of spiritual warfare. When the enemy is operating through someone else to destroy your life– love, bless and bless some more. Because our lives are not our own anyway. They have already been purchased and God operates His kingdom on the rule of love. After the New Covenant, the law was rendered useless without the power of God and the only rule that remained was the law of love. So how do I overcome this lack of authentic love in my life? I can only believe that it is the Holy Spirit that will do a deep work in my heart and give me the power to love. It’s the most important request we can ask for from the Holy Spirit… “Jesus, help me to love!”