I saw something really disturbing and heartbreaking recently. On a social media platform, many people who claimed to follow Christ were circulating a post that said that they didn’t support Islam. A part of me, the part that doesn’t want to jump to conclusions and wants to get what they meant, somewhat gets it a little bit. I get that they have their own religion, so why would they be touting another? But, many other religions do not go around stating that they don’t support Christianity (or do they? I do live in ignorant bliss at times). So I was kind of stumped. What was their intent behind the post?
The part of me that is forever hurting for people felt hurt by those Christians. My heart broke for all of those people in the world whose hurts and turmoil are being ignored by people who are supposed to love everyone, no matter where they’ve come from, what they’ve done.
I thought of all that’s happening in the U.S. right now, both in the media and not, the people who had the Olympics in their backyards, watching the glamour and luxury of it all while hurting and suffering on the outskirts. The people in Europe who are living in terror of extremists. The Syrians who are fleeing from their violence-torn home. The poor and hungry all over the world. The people who are hurting in our own backyards, who we as a society have deemed as unworthy of love.
Then the tears came (as they always do), and I just started thinking about how as human beings, we don’t deserve God’s love. His love isn’t something we earn or work for, it’s something that’s freely given by a merciful, gracious, loving God. We do nothing to deserve His love, even after we know of Him and dedicate our lives to Him, we still act as if we don’t know Him sometimes. We’re human. We’re broken. We’re sinners. All of us. Whether we know Christ or not, we are ALL in the same boat.
So I can’t judge anyone. I can’t say what someone is doing is right or wrong, because I fail and make mistakes ALL THE TIME. And I can’t judge those people who are spreading around that post. All I can do is ask God to work in their hearts, then try to extend the love that He’s calling us to extend to everyone. Jesus didn’t alienate those who society deemed as unworthy. He acknowledged them, went to them, healed them of ailments, changing their hearts forever. And the story of Paul/Saul is the real kicker.
Saul didn’t like Christians when we see him in Acts 9. He persecuted them. He made it his mission in life to make sure that they were punished for their beliefs. But Jesus stopped Saul’s life for three whole days, causing him to be blind after talking to him on his way to arrest some Christians. Then Jesus’ grace kicks in, and after Ananias heals Saul through the Holy Spirit, Saul is forever changed, becoming the figure we all know so well in the Bible.
10 In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, “Ananias!”
“Yes, Lord,” he answered.
11 The Lord told him, “Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. 12 In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.”
13 “Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your holy people in Jerusalem. 14 And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”
15 But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”
Acts 9:10-16 NIV
Jesus told Ananias to go to Saul and Ananias protested, but Jesus said that Saul was to be used for His glory, which was so amazing to me. And Ananias went, and Saul was healed of his blindness, and Saul immediately went and proclaimed Christ. And that really made me think about all of the people in this world, in this society, in our own backyards and in our homes, that we have deemed as unloveable. As unworthy of our time and energy. I know that when it comes to my family, I’ve withheld love from them so many times it’s truly horrible. I need to realize and remember that despite a person’s past and what they’ve done, they deserve to know of God. They need to know of God and His love, and if He’s calling me to point them to Him, then that’s what I ought to do.
I know that I need to extend love to people, too. All people. I need to look past a person’s past and their flaws, and see them as the broken human being that they are. That we all are. And that includes, and starts with, my family. Jeez, the amount of brokenness that’s stuffed within these four walls is incredible at times, but I can no longer act as I’ve been. I’ve been withholding love, choosing to let anger, bitterness, and resentment to plague my heart and lead my actions and words, rather than the love of God. I know that through this, through all of the tears shed for the hurting, the broken, the alienated, the forgotten, I know that God wants me to step it up and do better. To extend love, and not my flimsy way of giving love, but His forgiving, enduring, letting-go-of-the-past-and-beginning-again type of love