God has been teaching me to love like He loves. Recklessly. With abandon. Without regard for His reputation in religion.
Our church has a weekly prayer meeting. One night we prayed for North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un. The emotion for him and his people that rose up in me was from God Himself. God LOVES him! He LOVES the Korean people! It was completely overwhelming.
While I was in DC at Rise Up we prayed for mothers who lived with the fear of loosing their children because of the color of their skin. Again the emotion was completely overwhelming. God cares about how they feel and what they experience.
He was showing me that unless I connect with how someone is feeling, step into their shoes, feel their pain, my prayers can only go so far. By allowing myself to be vulnerable, uncomfortable, even pained I can pray far more effectively.
Jesus didn’t just imagine our situation. He identified with us fully, becoming human and facing every trial and temptation we face. Being Jesus to those around us means we must be willing to do the same.
I thought I was getting this. I was missing a piece. Judgement.
One year ago our community was searching for a 16-year-old boy who didn’t make it home. The roads can be bad and it’s dark so they were out looking within hours. Unfortunately the story didn’t end well. David Grunwald never made it home. His life was ended that night by a group of guys his own age. This senseless, horrific event rocked our community. Rocked me. Entering into the Grunwald’s pain is easy. They were robbed of their son and so much more.
The young men who committed the crimes involved? It’s easy to stand in judgement.
“I don’t know what to do. They’re having an affair.” I heard from a friend.
I immediately entered their pain. I was feeling the betrayal, the confusion, the accusation against them, against God. I prayed for hope and strength, perspective and faith.
Then God reminded me that Jesus loved the adulterer. He loves the betrayed and is close to the broken-hearted, yes. He loves the sinner, too. The one choosing sin – He loves, He died for. How reckless!
He was challenging me. Would I be willing to enter the pain of the adulterer? Would I love them and pray for them? Would I step out of judgement?
What about the young men that beat and killed David? Am I willing to enter their pain? (I’m not suggesting excusing their behavior. They need to be held responsible for their choices. That is a governing issue. I, we, the church, are commanded to love them. Getting there is a big step. Once we get there then we have another question. “What does loving them look like?”)
Judgement takes me away, sets me apart. “I don’t see how you could do that?”, “What are you thinking?”, and worst “I would never”.
Love draws me in. “What has been going on?” “What is causing you pain or pressing you so you feel the need to escape or act out?”, “What pain have you experienced to make that choice?” or “How can I help?”
For so many situations I can’t get these questions answered. Asking them brings me out of judgement.
When Jesus met sinners He did not condemn them. He also did not excuse their behavior. He did release grace to “Go and sin no more.” He called sin sin. He gave forgiveness where there was repentance. He died to provide the opportunity for forgiveness – before any of us repented.
God work in me to love as You love. To see as You see. Not a love that is blind and says anything goes. A love that sees everything and recklessly loves anyway.