I had a few conversations last week that have become like a Texas burr under the strap of my favorite flip flops….they will not stop poking. I have been in relationship with God long enough to know it’s Him trying to get me off of dead center (I much prefer to remain right where I am…it is a comfy, safe place to be). But He is persistent.
The first conversation was regarding one member of a family being devastated by a decision made by another member of the family. There were hurt feelings, angry feelings and alienating lines drawn in the sand which were leading to the breakdown of anything resembling a relationship. This decision was not one that led to illegal behaviors, dependency, self-destruction…simply living a different lifestyle that was viewed as unacceptable. So I have been asking myself, why are we willing to sacrifice our relationship with a family member over a decision that does not change anything that we love about that person? Second conversation was regarding a high school age female who is a teenage mom. She is hungry. Her child is hungry. She is in school trying to earn her diploma and asked for assistance from a social services agency in an attempt to help her family. She was turned away. Here is what is ringing in my ears…
“Jesus, friend of sinners, we have strayed so far away,
We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing.
Jesus, friend of sinners, the truth’s become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they’re tripping over me”
…Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers and break our hearts for what breaks Yours.
My heart was broken wide open after these conversations. Jesus references lepers repeatedly in the Gospels and I am beginning to understand the application more clearly. There are “lepers” everywhere I look. I view that term as indicative of a person or population who was (and is) outcast, shunned, unloved. How many modern day lepers exist in our neighborhoods, communities, country and world? As I look around, there are so many marginalized, judged, condemned, feared and outcast just as the lepers were. The question is who do I intentionally or unintentionally put into that category? Who do you put into that category? Single parents, those who file bankruptcy, the jobless, the homeless, those with mental illness, teenage moms, those who love the same gender…the list could go on and on. So I am pulling out that burr from my flip flops. I choose to put down the sword and open my eyes, my heart and my mind to see that we can all be marginalized, demonized in some way because we are all broken in some way. The sword was never mine to swing. I am called to keep making Christ’s work on the cross real by choosing to love ALL of His children. They are my family and that’s what families do.