Spoiler alert: this blog is a little different than the previous blogs. I like documenting the life and times of my kids and hubs, but as for this blog, I wanted to use it as a platform for a passion that’s been burning into my heart. So, no cute kid stories here. Only raw material. And it says “Jesus” and “God” and stuff. So it won’t bother me if you scroll fast to look at the pictures or just shut er’ down now. Here it go…
Last summer, while I was at the lake, drinking coffee and feeling the breeze from the lake, I was loving the lyrics from Jars of Clay’s new song, “We Will Follow.” One particular line burns into my mind as an answer to a question that’s been plaguing the church and Christians today, “What does it look like to love others?”
And by others, I mean everyone, regardless of their struggles with alcohol and drug addiction, their broken relationships, liberal or democrat, sexual orientation. Everyone.
Jars of Clay in their song, “We Will Follow” says: Set us free, to love the mystery, until our eyes are clear enough to see you.
So is there an aspect of mystery in regards to our relationship with others? Do we need God to set us free (from the need to have all the answers) so we can simply love the people He sets in front of us (all the while being OKAY with the “What Abouts” floating around in our church culture) and eventually our eyes will become clear enough to truly see God (and His desperate love for the world)?
As Starting Point leaders (an INCREDIBLE environment at Watermarke and the North Point churches for starters, seekers and returners—check it out: Starting Point), we meet people from every walk of life.
When they take a step in the direction of God, we are some of the first folks privileged to walk that road with them. We have the incredible opportunity to be the walking, talking version of His unconditional love.
Unconditional love literally meaning: I will love you without condition.
I will love you, listen to you, be here for you, go to coffee with you, hug you when you cry, and rejoice when your heart is set free.
I will do so regardless of you coming to group high or drunk, or admitting that you think you’re gay, or that you’re not sure if God exists. I will literally love you without condition.
What if we took seriously Jesus’ commission to us to “Love God and love others” and in so doing, let Love guide the way in our relationships with others? We let Love be the root of our discussions, our thoughts, the way we related to others, the central focus of our evangelical moments? How different would our relationships with others (in our churches, in our neighborhood, at work, in our crazy extended family) be if we let LOVE be the first card we played?
A blogger I read Candace Datz and her thoughts on LOVE: If I am to err in interpreting the Bible, which I probably will since I’m a human being, I would rather intentionally err on the side of more inclusion, acceptance, and generosity. I really can’t imagine Jesus saying to me, “You were too kind and loving and you didn’t put your foot down enough,” but I could definatley see him saying, “You didn’t take care of those around you and you alienated those that I love.”
I would like to err on the side of love.
I would like to trust God to shake out all those “what abouts” and “we/you/I should”s. I would like to love the mystery while God is changing hearts and minds and souls.
I don’t want to make it “difficult for others to believe.” I DO want to clear the way for God to work in a person’s life. I DO want to lead others into a growing relationship with Jesus.
I would simply like to do the small thing He asked of us: Love God (check), and love others (Okay. Let's nail it.)
What if we really did trust God to shake out all those other matters and “what abouts” and “we/I/you should”s? What if we just did what He asked us and loved Him with our whole heart and soul and mind and strength (and honestly let Him change OUR heart and soul and mind and strength)?
What if we truly let Him lead us and agreed to follow into whatever territory He wants us to be? What if we just embraced and loved the mystery until our eyes are clear enough to see (You, Lord. And everyone you created and love desperately.) What if we let Him open up our hearts and reach inside? How would that affect the way we honestly love other people?
What if we did all that? What if we “didn’t’ make it difficult for others to believe” by clearing the way and simply letting Love lead us? How would that change the way people would think about church? How would that open the door for people to even open up their hearts for God to fill it with love?
How would it change us if we just admitted that there are mysteries only God knows and the only thing He’s asking us to do is to be His love on Earth.
Be His love in a coffee shop. In your community. In your neighborhood. In your weird extended family. Everywhere you are, God is simply asking you to be the walking talking version of the same unconditional love that created the world, made a promise to redeem it, forgave it time and time again, continued to fight for it, until the day that the Greatest Love was sacrificed once and for all.
THAT love is what we have got to be.
Open up our hearts and reach inside, sweet Jesus.
It’s like standing at a window and looking at the lake thinking, “This is beautiful. I’m really experiencing the lake.”
But what if you stepped outside in the grass and sand, and dove right in?
It may be cold. It may be dirty and messy.
But just as Jesus prompts us to go into the world and love His people, regardless of the mess, regardless of all the unanswered questions, He is simply asking us to trust the mystery. To follow Him as He leads us.
I don’t know how the LGBTQ issue works or legalizing pot or any of the other messy and complicated aspects of life with people, but one thing I know for sure is--
I’d rather err on the side of loving God and loving people with everything I am, diving right in, than to stand on the outside looking through the window as this beautiful, mysterious life passes me by.
Open up our hearts and reach inside, Lord.
Is that a more “fuller” and “whole” experience of the lake? Heck yes.
But I can see the pushback on that, “Well, it’s sort of cold and windy out there. Also, I don’t have shoes on and there’s a bit of mud on the ground. That's for other people. Not me. I think I’m ok just experiencing the lake from inside.”
So similar to our growing relationship with Jesus.
We start at the window.
Looking out side at the world, at the beautiful things and people He created.
We say, “Oh look! There are people out there who are hurting and in need of a savior and a friend and love. I’ll pray for them. I hope it works out!”
But then Jesus prompts us to leave that window and go outside into the world He created.
Love the people He created.
Is it messy? Is it inconvenient at times?
Will there be times when we simply have to “trust the mystery until our eyes are clear enough to see [God]”?
We may not understand how the LGBTQ issue works or smoking pot or any of the other complicated aspects of life with people, but one thing I am certain of--
I’d rather err on the side of loving God--
standing with people as they grow in their relationship with Jesus--
than to stay on the inside--
looking through a window--
as this beautiful, mysterious life passes you by.
Maureen steps off her soapbox and drops the mike. :)