I met Diann yesterday when she came to see me as a rep for World Vision. In our conversation I learned about her life, raising many children, including 5 that she and her husband adopted. What I loved most was that she was so real about the joys and struggles of it all! Life for her, like all of us, was not all sunshine and roses. Some of her best intended choices had unforeseen results but there was no bitterness, no cynicism. Nor was there the common Christian affliction of superficial ‘happy talk’ about the hard things. She was just real.
Bob Goff pokes holes in our pretensions in an essay in his book, Everybody Always. He suggests that we lose our Christian speak, so often used to impress or cover up our insecurity, trading it for reality. “We don’t need to go on ‘mission trips’ any longer. Jesus’ friends did not call them this. They knew love already had a name. … We don’t need to call everything we do ‘ministry,’ just call it Tuesday. … People who love don’t need all the spin, because they aren’t looking for applause or validation from others any longer.”
How about we just stop all the measuring, comparing, wondering so we can just be the person calls us to be? Oh, I know, it’s hard not to wonder where we fit in the pecking order of life, isn’t it? I do it, too! Too often I allow myself to make ‘success’ (whatever that really is) into the number of people in church on Sunday morning instead of faithfully loving one or two on Tuesday.
In the pastoral journals I read, the names that appear in the headlines are of people who are ‘in charge’ of thousands, who are ‘changing the world,’ and the Devil uses that to tempt me to feel small, to ask ‘what’s wrong with me?’ Sad, isn’t it? But, it is such a common thing for all of us in different ways. Perhaps for you it’s beauty or money or your kid’s accomplishments or your house or … am I right?
Let’s get real with ourselves and God. Let’s make our prayer, “Here I am, Lord, all of me. It’s my desire to be the best ‘me’ I can be, using the opportunities You present to me today in the most excellent way so that Jesus will somehow shine through the good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly.”
Here is something I do know with certainty. You and I will encounter people today who desperately need to be loved. No they don’t need a ‘Jesus talk’ to straighten them out. They surely don’t need to hear us brag, our self-aggrandizement disguised as a ‘testimony.’ They need us to listen and care like He did. They need us to leave them with hope that life can be different. They need us to remind them that God still is there, that in spite of what they see, He’s not given up on the world. If we are just loving, the Spirit will open up opportunities for the next conversation, the one about inviting Jesus Christ to be Lord of life.
So, let’s ‘go into all the world,’ starting at the front door and love like Jesus did. (That is not romantic or sentimental.) He saw the need, moved to understand it, and died to change it! Ready to love like that?
Let this word from the Word speak deeply to you. Spend some time meditating on the wisdom of the Spirit that Paul left for us here.
“In light of all this, here’s what I want you to do.
While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master,
I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—
on the road God called you to travel.
I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands.
I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere.
And mark that you do this
with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily,
pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love,
alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.
You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction,
so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly.
You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all,
who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all.
Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness. “
(Ephesians 4:1-6, The Message)