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!”
I like to argue sometimes… especially about theological and doctrinal matters. As long as it doesn’t get ugly (and unfortunately sometimes even if it does), I enjoy a nice intellectual debate from time to time. If you get me around an unbeliever or a traditional church member and the subject of God comes up, I always have fun trying to convince them with my words and sharp statements about “truth”.
But about a year ago I realized that though this kind of debate can be helpful at times, mere conversation and bold statements are usually not the ideal tool to convince others. I was attending a weekend conference with a speaker who is probably one of the most prophetic people in our nation today. He pointed me out of the crowd and spoke to me saying “young lady. You like to convince others with your words and through debate but the Lord is going to make you into a presence carrier. It will be the presence of God in your life that will draw others to the truth.”
The problem I see with many who are always trying to be shocking by “shaking the church out of their slumber” is that most of the time they actually enjoy being offensive… being able to cause reactions… and you can tell. I’m sure many of them are convinced they are prophets like Jeremiah who have come to speak “truth” to the church gone astray but rarely do they have the heart of the prophet Jeremiah who loved his people deeply and was very troubled by the call God had on his life. He didn’t spout off the judgments of God to look smart and profound. He pleaded with God to relieve him of his prophetic duties.
I have been a little troubled myself, after seeing some of the ways people have put themselves on a pedestal in the name of “truth”. Why are we spending so much time rebuking the church (I mean do we really think we’re that perfect ourselves?) when we could be convincing them of how great and wide and high and deep the love of God is for them? If we really think our words are going to shape church culture than we have it wrong. It is the all-surpassing, passionate, jealous, consuming love of God that is going to shift the state of the church in our day. If we want to be reformers then this is the message we must, must, MUST bring to the church. If we believe that God needs our words to change things… well than who gets the glory there?
It is not our words but His presence that ignites a fire in a dead church.