I cry, too

break-my-heart2Thirty years ago while I served alongside of my father in ministry as an associate pastor, in a thriving church, I would sometimes go with him to funerals, to the hospitals, on visits to homes of the elderly. He often did something that acutely embarrassed me. He cried!  As he stood beside a hospital bed he would take the hand of a sick person and as he spoke to them, tears would slip down his cheeks.  When he held babies in dedication services, he would often weep. “What’s wrong with him?” I would wonder. “Can’t he control his emotions?”  He was not a weak man. Now I know the ‘why’ of those tears, because now I cry, too.

Dad chose tender over tough, opened his heart wide enough to let the pain, problems, hopes, and aspirations of others become part of who he was. He chose to experience life with those he served. He did not stand on sidelines, he was right in the game with them!  And, yes, his love for the flock he served had a down side for him. When people left the church (as people do), he was hurt and sometimes he allowed that pain to turn into anger. I used to urge him to ‘keep a professional distance.’  “Dad, you just can’t care that much for everybody. It’s going to kill you.”  But, he loved, worked, and tried to change the world right up to the end of his life. I understand all of it so much better now than I did when I was so ‘professional.’

If the Church is going to be the living Body of Christ that she is supposed to be, we are going to love, laugh, cry, argue, and hang together just like any other human family. Sunday morning gatherings must not be a place where we show only our smiles, put on our game faces, polite like people at a rally. Those meetings should be much more like a family reunion – full of emotion, hugs, shared experiences of our Father’s love holding us together. Being the family of God does not just happen. Paul shows us an intentional choice that we make, over and over again. If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. (Philippians 2:1-2, NIV)

The love that brings us together is not just a human thing. It is a demonstration of the Spirit’s life in us. When we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ, when we accept His invitation to become new, when we receive the grace of God, we will become increasingly tender just like Him. Remember this – Jesus reserved anger for ‘professionals!’  Those religious men who so carefully controlled their lives, who worked so hard to keep every comma and period in the Law that they lost touch with the heart of God, earned only His scorn.  But, the broken people – those who were possessed by sin, who drank too much, who were beaten up by life – were the ones that He loved. And, yes, Jesus cried, too.

As I learned from watching my Dad, you can’t fake tenderness!  It comes from being willing to enter into the lives of others in a way that feels what they feel, that hopes for them when they can’t hope anymore, that believes God when they only doubt Him.  Authentic love comes only when we are able to admit that we are broken too. The Pharisees would never allow themselves to acknowledge their brokenness, their sinfulness. Jesus told them that when they found a person in need that their efforts to convert him would  “make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.” (Matthew 23:15)  We need to look into the mirror, see what God sees, let Him break us from our pride, and take the healing love that He offers. We will become increasingly tender and that will make this true of us – “We love because He loved us first!”

Love is at the heart of the Gospel. 

Here is a word from the Word.  May it help us to be the tender-hearted children of God in a loveless world. And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.(2 Corinthians 5:18-21, NLT)

______

This Is Amazing Grace

Who breaks the power of sin and darkness?
Whose love is mighty and so much stronger?
The King of Glory, the King above all kings!

 Who shakes the whole earth with holy thunder?
Who leaves us breathless, in awe and wonder?
The King of Glory, the King above all kings!

 This is amazing grace.
This is unfailing love,
That You would take my place,
That You would bear my cross.
You laid down Your life
That I would be set free.
Oh Jesus, I sing for all that You’ve done for me.

 Who brings our chaos back into order?
Who makes the orphan a son and daughter?
The King of Glory, the King of Glory!

 Who rules the nations with truth and justice,
Shines like the sun in all of its brilliance?
The King of Glory, the King above all kings!

Jeremy Riddle | Josh Farro | Phil Wickham
© 2012 Phil Wickham Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.)
Bethel Music Publishing CCLI License # 810055

 

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