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I met a couple last week who reminded me of something important. At our base level, strip away everything that makes us different and you get a need to be loved and accepted. Those who are different in more socially unacceptable ways wear this need on their sleeves. They haven’t found love and acceptance where most of us have so they’ve deviated in their desperation. How many of us have compromised our values, our personalities, and dreams to be liked? It doesn’t stop in high school either. I find myself in constant revision. So who am I to judge?

“I don’t want to say that because they will think I’m lame or stupid or a prude.”

“I don’t want to do that because I’ll look foolish.”

Christians can be a terrible bunch of judges. We hold up a measuring stick to ourselves and those around us. But the comforting thing about being a Christian is that Christ says, “God doesn’t look at the outside but at the heart.”

What are your intentions, your dreams, your ambitions? God could care less about what your hair looks like or who you’re crushing on as long as your heart and your passions are in the right place. God loves us for who we are, warts and all. We are imperfect beings. We fail and make mistakes but God loves us anyway no matter what. Why can’t we do that for other people?

One of my favorite quotes is from a pastor. “God loves you the way you are but too much to leave you that way.” Step number one in changing someone’s heart: love them for who they are. Be a decent person. You can’t pick a random person off the street and tell them what they are doing is wrong and expect them to just change because you said something. You need to love them first. Jesus did. Lepers, prostitutes, adulterers, and tax collectors where the common crowd around Jesus. He didn’t put a hand out and say, “You heathens, change your ways or else.”

He invited them to follow him. He shared meals with them. He healed them and the ones they loved. That is the hard part, the messy part, the part other people see and wonder if you’ve lost your mind. The most important part is showing love to those who need it most, to the people who may be difficult to love.

My husband told the couple I mentioned earlier, that I was very religious so when I met them they were almost afraid of me. They have come to associate religion and Christianity with judgment. When we got to talking and they realized I was just as normal and human as them the relief was tangible. It’s really sad when you have to footnote your beliefs and say you’re the odd kind of Christian who actually tries to follow Christ and love people first while withholding judgment. Do I agree with their lifestyle? No. To I care enough to want them to change? Better question do I care enough to love them where they are until they ask me why? Love people first then when they ask why you treat them differently than others treat them your testimony will have credibility instead of being a bludgeon. Food for thought.

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