What if I told you that I really do believe in God's infinite love?
That statement all by itself isn't so hard to swallow.
Most folks in Christian communities believe that God embodies love. For "us." Often we will then attach a "them" statement that is equal and opposite.
I heard a challenging sermon yesterday.
Ever read the parable about the wheat and the darnel seeds? Two plants that look almost identical until harvest rolls around. Jesus explains them as being representative of the "kingdom of good" and the "kingdom of evil."
The problem with trying to weed out the bad plants before harvest is that the good plants will be destroyed in the process. The two plants have to exist together in the field until harvest, and then they can be separated.
I realized when I was young that I didn't know very much about people.
I've always been prone to jumping to conclusions about others. It's not something I'm proud of.
God is the only one who gets to know everything about other people. We don't get to. In fact . . . we can't.
You know how I learned this?
Bitter experience. The same way most of us learn tough things. What happens when we assume that we can somehow know everything about someone else's life, and that we can "fix" them or "make them understand why they are wrong"? What happens?
They get hurt. And then we get hurt.
And nobody can see the love of God because all we are seeing is forcefulness and a lack of hearing. A lack of seeing somebody else as being just as complicated as we ourselves are.
Complicated people and problems don't seem to bother God.
Jesus tells people to leave the weeds and the crop together. They have to grow next to each other. There is no one who is skilled enough to tell the difference between them as they are growing up. And there is no one who is gentle enough to tear one from the ground without killing the other. We are clumsy. We are not given the ability to make choices like that.
Sometimes this hurts me in our Christian culture.
I am tired of hearing who is wrong and right. Why do we care so much? Why do we need to be correct?
Jesus did not live a beautiful and truthful life so that we could point fingers at each other. He lived so that we might have life. A full life.
I remember the first time I heard this song. I couldn't get enough of it. It struck me right in the heart. Give it a listen. And listen all the way through. It's good music . . . and the words have a deep truth.
I remember going to see the "ink and blood" exhibit in Knoxville when I was a teenager - Bibles that people had died to protect. Not always from the government, but often from the Church. It was not seen as "right" or "godly" for someone to own a Bible in their vernacular language at one point in history. We are full of confusion. We are not wise enough to make choices about who gets to be loved by God and who doesn't. When we try to make those choices on behalf of God, we hurt ourselves and others. We interrupt that "full life" we think we're fighting for.
I love it when the song says, "Trust Jesus, John. Trust Jesus, people. Jesus will come and save us all."
We don't know what we're talking about most of the time. (I am speaking especially of myself here).
I have a family member who shares wisdom with me all the time.
He's a good man. He loves God. He expresses his faith in such a beautiful way - by serving other people peacefully. He is not a proud talker. He uses few words . . . partly, I think, because he keeps himself busy serving.
There is an issue rocking our wider "church" from coast to coast right now. I don't even have to spell it out. I bet you can guess it. And I'm not going to tell you what I think about it because it won't serve us to discuss what's "correct" or "right" here.
But I will tell you this.
I was talking with my family member on the phone about the issue. And I was expressing my dismay and frustration at the behavior surrounding the issue . . . the infighting and the ugly language being used . . . the lack of love. Mostly - the politics. Lots and lots of politics.
He said, "That's why my interest in church pretty much stops at the door of the building. Getting stuff done is interesting. The other stuff? Not so interesting."
He gladly serves people who are homeless. He has gladly taught Sunday school before. He has enjoyed service projects and Sunday morning services for years and years. But the politics? The "I'm right" and "You're wrong"? Not so interesting.
Trust Jesus, Sarah. Trust Jesus, people . . . God knows what we have no wisdom to understand. The wheat belongs to God. The darnel is a responsibility God has taken off our shoulders . . . because WE DON'T KNOW THE DIFFERENCE.
And it's ok.
"Do justice. Love kindness. Walk humbly with God."
We can also try to "Love our neighbors as ourselves."
That's going to be plenty enough to keep us busy.
Peace and Goodness.