Thursday, August 2, 2012

The reality of human acceptance

Just thinking tonight... Sorry, this will be a long post.. move on if you are judgmental and think that that is the same as righteousness... :-)

Read carefully and digest:
 "The human need for human acceptance and love will always always always trump the desire for righteousness."

This is a fact, though we may not wish to believe it. It has been proven true over and over again. What this means is that people, created by God, need your human love first before they can ever consider that God even exists, much less is worthy of their attention and much much less their affection.

Because I recognize this fact, I, Paul Lemmons, confess that I will knowingly commit sin to gain acceptance and especially love from flesh and blood humans above acceptance from God. I wish with all of my heart that this were not true but it is. And, even though I do not represent all of humanity, I believe this to be true of most humanity; Especially non-Christians. I, however, believe it to also be true for all Christians who are honest with themselves. God made us with a desire to be loved that is more powerful than even hunger. So, this should not be a revelation.

What, as Christians, should our response to this fact be? A fact that we have for so many years completely ignored with sayings like "Jesus Saves!" and 'God loves you! (but I don't)" and "John 3:16" on banners at football games, completely ignoring John 3:17 in the way we conduct ourselves and our lives.

I also confess that I, Paul Lemmons, need your love more than God's love. I do not believe that is blasphemy. I am a fairly strong and mature (in my own eyes) Christian and I can say, unequivocally,  that without your love my love for God (which is real) would shrivel and die.

Ok. If this is true for a fairly strong and somewhat honest-with-himself Christian, what must it be like for those that do not know God and think that "Jesus" is some kind of exclamation of "wow!" and can be used interchangeably with the word.

It means that those who do not know God will never, and  I mean never ever know Him through our hatred, prejudice and judgment. If I can not walk up to a gay man and extend my hand and accept him as a human being first, I will never ever connect that person with the love of God. If I can not talk, without judgment, to the woman selling her body to pay for her drug habit as an equal, I will never ever even be given the chance to talk to her about how much God loves her. If I can not walk up to a child molester, drunk, thief, spouse abuser, murderer, sexual pervert, porn addict or fill-in-the-blank sinner and treat them as a person first...

...I will be writing their ticket to hell... and mine as well...

God, please remove all of my inhibitions of being with sinners, feelings of superiority and righteousness. Let me see people first and labels not at all. Let me see people as Jesus saw people. Let me see the woman at the well and the woman caught in adultery as a woman who could repent. Help me see the short Roman collaborator and extortionist in the tree with the desire to share a meal with him. Help me have the compassion that Jesus showed to the woman that touched the hem of his cloak and the Roman Centurion that begged for the life of his servant. Give me the strength of will and courage to touch the leaper and embrace the unclean.

It strikes me that the only people that Jesus openly criticized were the religious folks that rejected grace in light of their own righteousness. He never criticized the sinner. Sinners, he reached out to. Sinners He forgave. Sinners were His best friends. Let me be like Him. For I am a sinner myself and Jesus has accepted me.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Giving God what He wants

I am contemplative today. The house is quiet and I am reading a number of blogs and commenters (yes I spelled that the way I wanted it spelled) and my mind is trying to digest and draw spiritual nutrient from what I read.

I have read a number of blogs and posts on church growth. There seems to be a common theme in them which is causing me some anxiety. In a nutshell they say that we should be sharing Jesus' forgiveness and grace and somehow by accepting that grace they have pleased God by giving Him what He wants. God does want to extend His grace to all. But I do not believe that us accepting His grace is what He really wants.

I also see a theme of teaching people to become disciples. This too is good but not the end all. Discipling (a word that nobody really knows what means inside the church much less outside) is not just about gathering followers. Jesus calls us to follow Him but even there I am not sure we really fathom what that means. We seem to get it that it means to become like Jesus but how does that manifest itself? Helping the poor? Service? Those are probably part of it but certainly not all of it.

God is a Father. He, has adopted us. Think about that for a minute. If I were a parent that adopted a child, why would I do that? So that they could eat from my table? So that they could experience my grace? So that I could make them look like me? So that I would have a follower? I don't think so.

I think it is because I would want a relationship with that child. I want to have the child greet me at the door and wrap their tiny arms around my leg and squeal with delight when I come home. I would want to hold them in my arms and show them how precious they are. I would want them to look me in the eye and tell me they love me because that is what is being reflected from my own eyes.

God has surely shown us His love and Grace and called us to follow. He has offered His forgiveness and at an awful cost. But why? Because that is what people in relationship do. God calls us to a leg hugging, wet kisses, full body embrace, reflective love relationship. Once we can show *that* to the world we will have succeeded in giving God what He wants.